30 abr. 2005

Mystery of Gibraltar Monkeys explained

Scientists have used DNA to figure out the origin of Gibraltar's Barbary macaques, which may have played a small part in winning World War II.

The macaques have long been figures of Gibraltar lore. As the story goes, when they are gone, the disputed British colony will return to Spanish rule.

In 1942, a handful of the monkeys remained. Gibraltar was militarily important, and any jolt to morale had to be avoided. Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent out a secret edict: Get more monkeys and bring them to the rock.

"Nobody knows where they got the macaques — they just suddenly appeared in Gibraltar," said Robert D. Martin, provost for academic affairs at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Martin and colleagues Lara Modolo and Walter Salzburger provided a partial answer in a paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists used DNA comparisons to conclude that the creatures came from two places — Morocco and Algeria, the only regions where Barbary macaques still reside in the wild. Macaques from these two places are genetically distinct.

Martin said the mixed origins of the imported macaques helped explain why the roughly 200 macaques now in Gibraltar were relatively healthy despite the inevitable inbreeding.

"My expectation was that the macaques in Gibraltar would be a genetic disaster area," he said. "But when we looked, their genetics was a lot more varied than I expected."

If the legend is true, Spain may have to wait a while before it gets Gibraltar back.

29 abr. 2005

Total Illusions - The Forums -> Dangerous Hacker!

Never guessed this would have gotten this amount of traffic. This is the story about a hacker who had little problems... Original from the german site http://www.stophiphop.de/, story can be found here: http://www.beast.mos-worlds.de/modules/new...php?storyid=184, please include this link if you repost this anywhere (site might be down, quite a lot of people are reading this). I, Cochrane, did not write this. I only translated it. Some people seem to get that wrong, it was Elch from www.stophiphop.de who first published this log.

In case you don't speak german (just as this hacker), I've tried a little translation to english. I might have made some spelling errors, but the original spelling wasn't perfect either. The guy really said "buy buy" in the german version. I've posted this on the forum on http://www.desertcombat.com before, so if this looks familiar, might be the same. I've corrected some mistakes and put the < > back to the right version (The DC forum does not support them). All censoring was done by this particular forum here.
Notice that in germany we get DST earlier than in the US.

The story starts (I'm shortcutting here) with an [Please control your cussing] insulting everyone on the IRC channel. Most people there believed it was rather funny. To quote him: "we [Please control your cussing] satanists victims winos like you in the ass every day" (this did not make sense in german, either. The translator). But it got even more funny.

For information: The dangerous hacker is called bitchchecker and the one being hacked and original author of the comments, who is talking here, is known as Elch. is always the IP-adress of the computer you're currently using, any request there will return to your computer.

* bitchchecker (~java@euirc-a97f9137.dip.t-dialin.net) Quit (Ping timeout#)
* bitchchecker (~java@euirc-61a2169c.dip.t-dialin.net) has joined #stopHipHop
why do you kick me
can't you discus normally
we didn't kick you
you had a ping timeout: * bitchchecker (~java@euirc-a97f9137.dip.t-dialin.net) Quit (Ping timeout#)
what ping man
the timing of my pc is right
i even have dst
you banned me
amit it you son of a bitch
shit you're stupid, DST^^
shut your mouth WE HAVE DST!
for two weaks already
when you start your pc there is a message from windows that DST is applied.
You're a real computer expert
shut up i hack you
ok, i'm quiet, hope you don't show us how good a hacker you are ^^
tell me your network number man then you're dead
Eh, it's
or maybe
yes exactly that's it: I'm waiting for you great attack
in five minutes your hard drive is deleted
Now I'm frightened
shut up you'll be gone
i have a program where i enter your ip and you're dead
say goodbye
to whom?
to you man
buy buy
I'm shivering thinking about such great Hack0rs like you
* bitchchecker (~java@euirc-61a2169c.dip.t-dialin.net) Quit (Ping timeout#)

What happened is clear: That guy entered his own IP-Adress in his mighty Hack-Tool and crashed his own PC. This way, the attack on my PC was a failure. I was already starting to think that I did not have to worry, but a good hacker never calls it a day. Two minutes later he returned.

* bitchchecker (~java@euirc-b5cd558e.dip.t-dialin.net) has joined #stopHipHop
dude be happy my pc crashed otherwise you'd be gone
bitchchecker: Then try hacking me again... I still have the same IP:
you're so stupid man
say buy buy
ah, [Please control your cussing] off
buy buy elch
* bitchchecker (~java@euirc-b5cd558e.dip.t-dialin.net) Quit (Ping timeout#)

There was a tension in the room... Would he manage, after these two failures, to crash my PC? I waited. Nothing happened. I felt relieve... Six minutes passed by until he prepared the next wave of attack. Being a Hacker, who usually cracks whole data centers, he knew what his problem was now.

* bitchchecker (~java@euirc-9ff3c180.dip.t-dialin.net) has joined #stopHipHop
elch you son of a bitch
bitchchecker how old are you?
What's up bitchchecker?
you have a frie wal
fire wall
maybe, i don't know
i'm 26
such behaviour with 26?
how did you find out that I have a firewall?
tststs this is not very nice missy
because your gay fire wall directed my turn off signal back to me
be a man turn that shit off
cool, didn't know this was possible.
thn my virus destroys your pc man
are you hacking yourselves?
yes bitchchecker is trying to hack me
he bitchchecker if you're a hacker you have to get around a firewall even i can do that
yes man i hack the elch but the sucker has a fire wall the
what firewall do you have?
like a girl
firewall is normal a normal hacker has to be able to get past it...you girl^^
Bitch give yourself a jackson and chill you're letting them provoce you and give those little girls new material all the time
turn the firewall off then i send you a virus [Please control your cussing]er
he bitchchecker why turn it off, you should turn it off
you're afraid
i don't wanna hack like this if he hides like a girl behind a fire wall
elch turn off your shit wall!
i wanted to say something about this, do you know the definition of hacking??? if he turns of the firewall that's an invitation and that has nothing to do with hacking
shut up
my grandma surfs with fire wall
and you suckers think you're cool and don't dare going into the internet without a fire wall

He calls me girly and says only his grandma would use a firewall. I know that elder people are much more intelligent then younger, but I couldn't let that rest. To see whether he really is a good hacker I lie and let everything as it is. I don't have a firewall at all, only my router.

bitchchecker, a collegue showed me how to turn the firewall off. Now you can try again
bitchhacker can't hack
> nice play on words ^^
wort man
bitchchecker: I'm still waiting for your attack!
how many times again he is no hacker
man do you want a virus
tell me your ip and it deletes your hard drive
lol ne give it up i'm a hacker myself and i know how hackers behave and i can tell you 100.00% you're no hacker..^^
it's easy
lolololol you so stupid man you'll be gone
and are the first files being deleted
i'll take a look

In panic I started the Windows Explorer, my heart beating faster. Had I under-estimated him?

don't need to rescue you can't son of a bitch
that's bad
elch you idiout your hard drive g: is deleted
yes, there's nothing i can do about it
and in 20 seconds f: is gone

Yes, true, G: and F: were gone. Did I ever have them? Doesn't matter, I did not have time to think, I was scared. bitchchecker was comforting me with a music tip.

tupac rules
elch you son of a bitch your f: is gone and e: too

Drive E:? Oh my god... All the games are there! And the vacation pictures! I instantly take a look. Everything still there. But the hacker said it was deleted....

Or isn't it happening on my computer?

and d: is at 45% you idiot lolololol
why doesn't meta say anything
he's probably rolling on the floor laughing
> ^^
your d: is gone
go on BITCH

The guy is good: My CD-drive is allegedly deleted! Bitchchecker turned my ancient disk sucker into a burner! But how did he do this? I'll have to ask him. Some encourage him. He himself is giving advice how to avoid the disaster on my hard drives.

elch man you're so stupid never give your ip on the internet
i'm already at c: 30 percent

Should I tell him he's not attacking my computer?

* bitchchecker (~java@euirc-9ff3c180.dip.t-dialin.net) Quit (Ping timeout#)

Too late... It's 20:22 when we get the last message of our hacker with the alias "bitchchecker". We see that he has a "Ping timeout". We haven't seen him since then... must be the Daylight Saving Time.

Notice: We are well completely aware that maybe bitchchecker was just playing a game with us. He also claimed to have german as his major field of study.
shut up man i have advanced german

Added by the translator: I completely forgot the last notice - sorry. His german is about as bad as my translation of it (this was intended). Notice that the german expression "Leistungskurs" (the most advanced course you can take in the kind of school that prepares you for university) can not really be translated into english. I tried with "advanced" and "major field of study", hope it fits.

Off Topic: A lot of people seem to wonder what this forum is about. If you're one of them, read this thread, it should tell you all you want to know.

Los taxis del futuro, ¿con alas?


Uno de los mayores problemas para los conductores actuales son los enormes porblemas de tráfico. Pero...y si dejáramos de conducir en tierra y lo hiciéramos en el aire. Numerosas películas han recreado la conducción en el aire como una posibilidad muy real, desde 'Blade Runner' hasta 'El quinto elemento'. Ahora, el sueño está más cerca: el 'Jetpod' es un taxi aerotransportado que podría estar disponible en cinco o seis años.

28 abr. 2005

Doomsayers say Pope Benedict fits world end prophecy

Pope Benedict's ascent to the papacy took a conclave of 115 cardinals, four rounds of voting and followed a lifetime of service to the Vatican.

But ask Internet doomsayers eyeing a 12th century Catholic prophecy and they'll tell you it was all stitched up more than eight centuries ago and that judgment day is nigh.

The prophecy -- widely dismissed by scholars as a hoax -- is attributed to St. Malachy, an Irish archbishop recognised by members of the Church for his ability to read the future.

Benedict, believers say, fits the description of the second-to-last pope listed under the prophecy before the Last Judgement, when the bible says God separates the wicked from the righteous at the end of time.

"The Old Testament states: 'believe his prophets and you will prosper' -- so believe it. We are close to the return of the Judge of the nations. Christ is coming," wrote one Internet post by the Reverend Pat Reynolds.

"Thank God for the witness of St. Malachy."

St. Malachy was said to have had a vision during a trip to Rome around 1139 of the remaining 112 Popes. The new pope would be number 111 on that list, and is described in a text attributed to St. Malachy as the "Glory of the Olive".

To connect Benedict, a pale, bookish German, to anything olive takes some imagination. But Malachy-watchers point to the choice of the name Benedict -- an allusion to the Order of Saint Benedict, a branch of which is known as the Olivetans.

"When (he) chose the name Benedict XVI, this was seen as fulfilling the prophecy for this pope," wrote one entry on www.wikipedia.org.

Benedict said that he chose the name partly in honour of Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922), calling him a "courageous prophet of peace". On Wednesday, Benedict dedicated his papacy to "the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples".

"Perhaps Benedict XVI will be a peacemaker in the Church or in the world, and thus carry the olive branch," speculated www.catholic-pages.com.

Another site, www.bibleprobe.com, went even further, showing a picture of Benedict holding olive branches in March during Palm Sunday celebrations.

"Is this the Pope of Peace (olive)?" it asked in the caption.

Critics widely dismiss the Malachy prophecy as a forgery and possible propaganda meant to influence a 16th century conclave. Doses of scepticism even appear on the most energetic Malachy web pages.

But believers point out similarities between the prophecy's descriptions and past pontificates. Pope John Paul II, number 110, was described in the prophecy as "de labore solis" -- or "of the labour of the sun".

He was born on May 18, 1920, the same day as a solar eclipse. The pontiff was buried on April 8, 2005 -- the same day as a partial eclipse, visible in the Americas.

More pressing for doomsayers are the prophecy's references to the last Pope on the list, Peter the Roman, who will lead the Church before "the formidable judge will judge his people".

Since Benedict is already 78 years old, they say Peter the Roman must be coming soon, and with him, the end of the world.

"His reign will only last a few years at most. This signals that we are living in what may be the end of days as we know it," said one website entry by someone calling himself SmartBob.

Robotic arm helps stroke victims regain strength

Researchers at Arizona State University and biotech startup Kinetic Muscles have created a robotic arm designed to help stroke victims regain use of their limbs. The pneumatic RUPERT I (Robotic Upper Extremity Repetitive Therapy) is designed to assist patients in performing repetitive-motion exercises. It has been tested with stroke patients in Phoenix and will be shown off at the 9th International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics this summer in Chicago.

27 abr. 2005

Universos paralelos - 3 de junio de 2003

Universos paralelos

Acabo de recibir el número de mayo de Scientific American (Investigación y ciencia en España, pero estoy suscrito a la versión americana porque me gusta ver la publicidad) y en portada anuncia "Infinite Earths in Parallel Universes Really Exist", artículo escrito por un tal Max Tegmark que me suena vagamente (he descubierto de qué me suena, leí un artículo suyo sobre decoherencia).

(Al leer lo de Tierras Infinitas pensé en la saga Crisis en Tierras Infinitas de DC hace ya muchos años. Cómo lloré con la muerte de Supergirl.)

El hombre describe, afirmando que son ideas aceptadas por la mayoría de los cosmólogos cosa que no sé hasta qué punto es cierta, cuatro niveles de universos paralelos.

Nivel 1: En un universo infinito hay tantos universos paralelos como burbujas de cierto diámetro (el que la luz ha recorrido desde el Big Bang) se puedan construir. Como el volumen de cada una de esas burbujas es finito, es evidente que cada cierto tiempo se deben ir repitiendo todas las posibles combinaciones. Es decir, no sólo existen universos paralelos sino que también hay infinitos universos idénticos a éste. Tendríamos un multiverso.

Nivel 2: Durante la inflación se produjeron también muchos multiversos paralelos, cada uno de los cuales contendría a su vez infinitos universos de nivel uno. Estos universos estarías separados entre sí por espacio vacío que se extendería más rápido de lo que sería posible viajar por él. Estos universos tendrían además condiciones iniciales diferentes y también valores diferentes de constantes fundamentales, dimensiones, etc... Ayudarían a explicar por qué las condiciones de nuestro universo parecen tan bien ajustadas a la vida.

Nivel 3: Universos cuánticos según la interpretación de muchos mundos, que ahora parece vivir una nueva aceptación gracia a la Decoherencia. Todo universo tendría su función de onda perfectamente definida, determinista y unitaria. Cada vez que se debe tomar una decisión cuántica es como si ese universo se desdoblase en tantos como fuesen necesarios para dar cuenta de todos los posibles resultados. Cada observador en uno de esos universos creería ver un resultado concreto, aunque para el conjunto todas las posibilidades se habrían materializado y la función de onda seguiría su evolución sin problemas.

Nivel 4: ¿Cuál será? Universos con otras estructuras matemáticas. Por ejemplo, un universo que sea un dodecaedro vacío. O un universo en el que todas las trayectorias sean clásicas. Los nuestros serían, supuestamente, un subtipo de cierto universo matemático.

Según el autor, cada uno de estos niveles realiza ciertas predicciones concretas y por tanto podrían evaluarse científicamente. Al final, trata también con el espinoso tema de la navaja de Occam.

Por cierto, que el tiempo podría no existir. Si hay infinitos universos y por tanto están presentes toda las combinaciones posibles de materia, el tiempo no sería más que la selección de una ordenación particular de esos universos. Sí, el autor ya nombra Ciudad Permutación de Greg Egan (y The End of Time de Julian Barbour).

Un artículo fascinante. No sé si lo habrá resumido bien. En cualquier caso, está disponible en la web.

Actualización: Víctor me señala la entrevista con Martin Rees en Edge. Comenta básicamente lo mismo sobre los multiversos y aporta algunas justificaciones más. No llega hasta el cuarto nivel, pero si comenta los universos dentro del universo infinito, los universos con múltiples leyes físicas y los muchos mundos de la cuántica (con lo que parece que efectivamente algunos cosmólogos creen que todo eso es posible). Aplica un principio de mediocridad y comenta que en ese caso si hay infinitos universos con múltiples combinaciones de leyes físicas, incluso infinitas, no es extraño que existamos en un universo que permite la existencia de la complejidad y de la vida. Pero va un poco más e introduce un nivel que voy a llamar 0: simulaciones de la complejidad dentro de un universo de nivel 1. Si un universo de esos soporta la existencia de ordenadores capaces de simular partes del universo, entonces, ese mismo principio nos indica que lo más probable es que existamos dentro de una de esas simulaciones (a partir de ese punto, uno puede añadir todos los niveles que quiera).

Cassini Finds Organic Material on Titan


A close flyby of Saturn's big moon Titan by the international Cassini spacecraft revealed an upper atmosphere brimming with complex organic material, a finding that could hold clues to how life arose on Earth, scientists said.

26 abr. 2005

Microsoft, demandada por el uso del formato JPEG

Forgent Networks, propietario de la tecnología de archivo digital JPEG, ha presentado una demanda contra Microsoft por infrigir su patente. La demanda, presentada en la corte del distrito de Eastern Texas por Compression Labs, subsidiaria de Forgent, fue interpuesta como respuesta a una demanda previa de Microsoft contra la validez de dicha patente.

Michael Noonan, portavoz de Forgent, afirmó que ambas compañías habían mantenido negociaciones durante varios meses antes de que Microsoft presentara su demanda.

"Nosotros somos dueños de la tecnología y dueños de la patente, por lo que creemos que la mejor respuesta tenía que ser la búsqueda de un resarcimiento por los posibles daños", señaló Noonan. Forgent no especificó qué tipo de resarcimiento busca, aunque subrayó que hasta la fecha ha ganado más de 100 millones de dólares en concepto de licencias de su patente.

La patente No. 4.698.672 de Estados Unidos es la tecnología utilizada para comprimir la gran cantidad de información necesaria para las imagenes digitales a JPEG, uno de los formatos de archivos de imagen más usado en computación.

En su protesta presentada hace una semana y contra Forgent y Compression Labs, Microsoft alegó que la patente era inválida.

El gigante mundial de 'software' se ha visto atrapado en repetidas batallas legales por el amplio alcance de su sistema operativo Windows y las variadas tecnologías usadas en su 'software'.

Noonan adelantó que su compañía es perfectamente capaz de financiar la batalla legal contra Microsoft, y que ya ha demandado a otras 44 compañías por infrigir su patente JPEG.

23 abr. 2005

Scientists Solve Riddle of Unpopped Popcorn

CNN is reporting that scientists have solved the problem of unpopped popcorn kernels left in a bag or bowl. The short answer is that unpopped kernels have leaky hulls (seed coats) that prevent the buildup of sufficient pressure to cause the pop. The research has been published online and will appear in the July 11 edition of the journal BioMacromolecules. From the article: 'In the varieties popped, the percentage of unpopped kernels ranged from 4 percent in premium brands to 47 percent in the cheaper ones.' So buying the good stuff for home use is probably worth it."

19 abr. 2005

La Marvel copia la foto oficial del Rey para un personaje de X-Men

La nueva imagen de Magneto, uno de los personajes clásicos de los cómics Marvel, es exactamente igual a la única fotografía oficial del Rey Juan Carlos con uniforme de Capitán General de los Ejércitos.

La foto del Rey y la del nuevo Magneto, que este verano aparecerá en los quioscos dentro de la serie The Pulse: House Of M es prácticamente igual. En ambos casos, incluso, una de las medallas está situada por encima de la banda. Las dos imágenes comparten, igualmente, el fondo.

La fotografía del Rey Juan Carlos fue realizada por Alberto Schommer y tiene, por supuesto, copyright. En la página de la Casa Real esta es la única fotografía en la que Don Juan Carlos aparece con el uniforme de Capitán General de los Ejércitos. Evidentemente, no existe ningún rango mayor.

Los seguidores de los cómics de Marvel están expectantes ante la nueva entrega de la saga y sus universos paralelos. El cómic en cuestión forma parte de los llamados “What if” o "Qué hubiera pasado si..." en el que un joven Magneto llega a ser el Rey de los mutantes.

La noticia ya ha tenido eco en algunos blogs como La cárcel de papel.

Wanted: A real-life 'Q' to help British agents

The government agency in the United Kingdom that provides high-tech help for spies needs a new chief.

Her Majesty's Government Communications Centre, or HMGCC, is looking for a new chief executive--the real-life version of James Bond's gadget-obsessed "Q."

The agency provides "special operational and technical services" in support of national security, according to a posting for the job.

"Its work is demanding, often at the cutting edge of technology, and of critical national importance," the posting says.

The organization has a staff of 425 and a budget of $51.72 million (27 million pounds), and is seeking a new chief executive to "ensure the delivery of technical capabilities critical to national security," the posting says.

The agency's areas of expertise, according to its Web site, include radio frequency engineering, signal processing, embedded systems, the study of power sources and the design and development of small precision mechanisms--all of which are used to assist operatives in the field.

The listing says that an advantage for a job candidate would be experience in any field that involves "exploiting high technology to deliver operational outcomes," along with knowledge of project management.

But any wannabe Qs should get moving quickly. The closing date for applications is Tuesday.

17 abr. 2005


You can become a legally ordained minister, instantly, online, at this website. The Universal Life Church is totally non-denominational, interfaith and welcomes all religions. After you fill out the ordination form, you will receive a pop-up instant credential, which serves as your receipt of your ordination. Print it immediately.

15 abr. 2005

Zoo Wants Chimpanzee to Stop Smoking

A South African zoo is trying to persuade its star chimpanzee to kick a bad smoking habit.

Charlie, a grown male chimp and the Bloemfontein Zoo, has been picking up cigarettes thrown to him by visitors and smoking them -- a habit he probably picked up by observing humans, zoo officials told the SAPA news agency on Thursday.

"Baby chimps pick up habits by mimicking adults and we think he started mimicking smokers at his enclosure which probably led to smokers throwing him cigarettes," spokesman Daryl Barnes told SAPA.

Barnes said Charlie was already showing the signs of a true nicotine addict.

"He even acts like a naughty schoolboy by hiding the cigarette when staff approach the area," Barnes said, adding that the zoo was determined to help him quit.

Barnes said the most important thing was that people stop providing Charlie with cigarettes or any other treats, noting the chimp already had three bad teeth because of all the cans of sweet soft drinks that people throw at him.

Charlie is not the only smoking chimpanzee. A zoo in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou reported last year that one of its chimps had taken up smoking and was desperately bumming cigarette butts off visitors.

'Minority Report' interface created for US military

A computer interface inspired by the futuristic system portrayed in the movie Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, could soon help real military personnel deal with information overload.

The film sees characters call up and manipulate video footage and other data in mid-air after donning a special pair of gloves. Now defence company Raytheon, based in Massachusetts, US, is working on a real version and has even employed John Underkoffler, the researcher who proposed the interface to the makers of the film.

Underkoffler is a science and technology consultant for Treadle and Loam Provisioners in California, US, and previously developed radical computer interfaces at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He says the new system should help military experts sift through large quantities of information quickly and efficiently.

"Keystrokes and mouse clicks limit your degree of freedom," Underkoffler told The Wall Street Journal.

Swiss Army knife

The system under development at Raytheon lets users don a pair of reflective gloves and manipulate images projected on a panoramic screen. A mounted camera keeps track of hand movements and a computer interprets gestures. "Your hand becomes a Swiss Army knife," says Underkoffler.

Raytheon plans to offer the technology as a way to sort through large amounts of satellite imagery and intelligence data. But the technology might also have non-military applications, says Stephen Brewster, who is also developing gesture-based computer interfaces at the University of Glasgow, UK.

"I think this is a very good idea," Brewster told New Scientist. "Hand gestures, unlike a mouse or pointer, work really well when data is represented on wall-sized displays, for example."

But Brewster notes that completely new user interfaces will inevitably require new ways of visualising and manipulating information. "The biggest benefit comes when you develop a new way of interacting altogether," he says.

Underkoffler has previously developed a method of representing and manipulating information by projecting it onto an ordinary table or wall, known as the Luminus Room. "The idea is to force graphics out of the monitor and into the real world," he says.

Colorado Man Resuscitates Chicken

First there was Mike the Headless Chicken, a rooster that survived for 18 months after having its head lopped off with an ax.

Now, western Colorado has a new chicken survival story, this one involving a man who claims he saved his fowl by giving it mouth-to-beak resuscitation.

Uegene Safken says one of the chickens in his young flock had gotten into a tub of water in the yard last week and appeared to have died.

Safken said he first swung the chicken by the feet to revive it. When that failed, he continued swinging and blowing into its beak.

"Then one eye opened. I thought it was an involuntary response," Safken said. The chicken's beak opened a little wider, and Safken started yelling at it: "You're too young to die!

"Every time I'd yell at him, he'd chirp," Safken said.

Mike the Headless Chicken survived a beheading in 1945 in Fruita, Colo. Afterward, Mike could go through the motions of pecking for food, and when he tried to crow, a gurgle came out. His owner put feed and water directly into Mike's gullet with an eyedropper.

Scientists examined the chicken and theorized Mike had enough of a brain stem left to live headless. He was a popular attraction until he choked to death on a corn kernel.

14 abr. 2005

Historia genética de la migración


Investigadores esperan desarrollar un mapa de las migraciones en el mundo a partir del estudio genético de más de 10.000 personas.

El gigante de la computación IBM y la revista National Geographic presentaron el proyecto, que se basa en el estudio comparativo de los genes de diez poblaciones autóctonas alrededor del mundo.

Según los especialistas, el examen de doce patrones de ADN revelará la clave genética de la humanidad que -alegan- se ha mantenido sin cambios por cientos de generaciones.

13 abr. 2005

Pandemic-causing 'Asian flu' accidentally released

The virus that caused the 1957 “Asian flu” pandemic has been accidentally released by a lab in the US, and sent all over the world in test kits which scientists are now scrambling to destroy.

There are fears the virus could escape the labs, as the mistake was discovered after the virus escaped from a kit at a high-containment lab in Canada. Such an escape could spread worldwide, as demonstrated in Russia in the 1970s.

The flu testing kits were sent to some 3700 labs between October 2004 and February 2005 by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), a professional body which helps pathology laboratories improve their accuracy, by sending them unidentified samples of various germs to identify.

The CAP kits - prepared by private contractor Meridian Bioscience in Cincinnati, US - were to contain a particular strain of influenza A - the viral family that causes most flu worldwide. But instead of choosing a strain from the hundreds of recently circulating influenza A viruses, the firm chose the 1957 pandemic strain.

This is a problem because of the way pandemic flu strains edge each other out of circulation. The most lethal flu pandemic on record, in 1918, was caused by an influenza A of the H1 type, named for the haemagglutinin, a surface protein, it carries. After 1918, H1 flu evolved into an “ordinary” flu, and continued to circulate.

Bird flu

The 1957 pandemic started in China before spreading worldwide, killing an estimated two million or more people. It was triggered by the hybridisation of human H1 flu with flu viruses from birds which carried another surface protein, H2. It was more lethal than the then-circulating H1 strains because no human had ever encountered the H2 protein before, and so lacked any immunity to the new strain.

Immediately after 1957, all traces of H1 flu in humans disappeared, to be replaced by H2 strains. A similar process occurred again in 1968, when another hybrid virus emerged - again in China - carrying another haemagglutinin, H3. This caused the “Hong Kong flu” pandemic, which killed an estimated one million people worldwide.

But after 1968, H2 flu disappeared - so anyone born after that year will have no immunity to H2 flu and any escape of the virus in the test kits could be as lethal to them as the Asian flu of 1957.

A similar event happened in 1977, with the sudden reappearance of an H1 flu identical to one that had been isolated in 1950. It is believed that the virus escaped from a faulty batch of live flu vaccine prepared in Russia. But fortunately that strain had evolved into a much tamer creature than its 1918 predecessor. Unfortunately, the 1957 H2 virus is the most lethal variant of its kind.

Already escaped

A few of the CAP kits were sent to labs in Asia, the Middle East and South America, as well as Europe and North America. The kits’ originators had to know what they contained, in order to evaluate the test results. However, when Canada’s National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg identified the strain on 26 March, it alerted the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Worryingly, it initially found the potentially deadly virus in a sample unrelated to the test kit - meaning it had already escaped within the lab.

Test kits for flu are not handled at a high level of biological containment as it is generally assumed they do not carry unusually dangerous viruses. But its escape in the Winnipeg lab is worrying, as the lab contains facilities with the highest level of containment and its staff is expected to maintain high levels of lab hygiene. Its most probable route of escape into the outside world would be if a lab worker catches the Asian flu, then passes it on.

But there has been no sign of the virus infecting humans yet, says Klaus Stöhr, chief flu scientist at the World Health Organization in Geneva. But as the usual northern flu season is just ending it is not clear if any cases would have been noticed.

“If this incident doesn't cause a major reassessment of the safety of flu research, a lab-sponsored pandemic may well be the only thing that induces sobriety,” comments Ed Hammond of the Sunshine Project, a biosafety pressure group.

10 abr. 2005

Answers to a History Quiz

I found the following floating around the Internet. They are supposedly answers given by sixth grade students on a history exam. I don't know if this is in fact the case or not; thus, I present this for entertainment purposes only. (Original spelling and grammar errors are left as originally written.)
Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.

Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was cannonized by Bernard Shaw.

Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "hurrah."

It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. Sir Fransis Drake Circumsized the world with a 100-foot clipper.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couple. Romeo's last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backwards and declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German half Italian and half English. He was very large.

Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered radio. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers

8 abr. 2005

'Bionic Suit' Goes On Sale This Year

A "bionic suit" that gives the wearer super strength will be unveiled in June, according to an upcoming article in NewScientist magazine.
Called the Hybrid Assistive Limb, or "HAL," the technology will reportedly be productized and made available for purchase by the end of this year for less than $19,000. Exact pricing has not been announced.

The suit works by providing its wearer an exoskeleton strapped to the legs and a backpack that contains a computer and wireless connectivity.

Bioelectric sensors attached to the skin monitor the movements of the wearer, and send that information to the computer, which in turn controls the robotic limbs. So when the user takes a step, the exoskeleton instantly takes a step also, providing artificial muscles that assist in walking, standing and even climbing stairs.

The newest version that will be shown in June also assists the arms, enabling the user to lift about 40 kilograms more than they otherwise could.

Researchers say the response time of the bio suit is actually faster than a human's own internal signals between brain and muscle.

The system reportedly stores memories of specific walking and movement patterns, which are recalled when the HAL suit is used again.

Leading uses for the suit include help for people with brain and spin injuries as well as the elderly -- a kind of wheelchair replacement.

The technology was developed over the past decade by Yoshiyuki Sankai at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

4 abr. 2005

New gadget from Japan hailed as ghost detector

The Japanese company that launched popular computer data storage units shaped like rubber ducks and sushi started selling a new product today – a ghost detector.

SolidAlliance’s portable GhostRadar beeps and flashes red lights in response to unusual magnetic waves. It also reacts to body heat and perspiration detected by a sensor where users place their thumbs.

The gadgets went on sale today in Japan and the first shipments to the US are on their way, said SolidAlliance Vice President Yuichiro Saito.

GhostRadar is a novelty item that comes attached to USB memory storage device, which holds data such as documents, digital photos and MP3 music files and plugs into a computer’s USB port.

Its memory ranges from 128-512 megabytes.

The device’s memory and ghost detector functions are not linked, Saito said.

GhostRadar is recommended for spooky late nights alone at your computer, and for those curious about finding out if their sudden chills represent a supernatural visitor, Saito said.

The device may beep as often as once an hour in a place that’s haunted, but might fall silent in other spots, Saito said. He wouldn’t elaborate on how it worked.

"This detects invisible phenomena and so the system is confidential," he said. "This is not a game. This is a measuring device."

The company’s other USB memory offerings have been hits in Japan.

The Sushi Disk comes with replicas of various types of the Japanese delicacy, including shrimp and raw tuna. The i-Duck storage unit includes a colourful glowing duck.

In Japan, GhostRadar costs about twice as much as a regular memory storage unit at 19,800 yen (€142) for 512 megabytes, according to Yokohama-based SolidAlliance.

1 abr. 2005

La caspa y las células de la piel influyen en el cambio climático

Los restos de material celular, como el de la caspa o incluso el de la epidermis, pueden influir en el cambio climático, según un estudio científico cuyas conclusiones fueron desveladas por uno de sus responsables, Ruprecht Jaenicke.

"Todas las partículas" influyen de algún modo en las radiaciones y con ello en el clima, añadió Jaenicke, tras precisar que todo apunta a la necesidad de conocer todos "los ingredientes" contenidos en la atmósfera si se pretende luchar contra el cambio climático.

Todas las partículas suspendidas en al aire influyen en la formación de la lluvia, en las precipitaciones, en las nubes.... "Así es como funciona la naturaleza", explicó el experto. Por eso, añadió, "si vamos a modelar el clima, tenemos que conocer los distintos ingredientes en la atmósfera: el polvo mineral, los sulfatos, el hollín, restos orgánicos, e incluso partículas celulares".

Todos estos componentes han sido fruto de bastantes investigaciones en los últimos tiempos, a excepción de los relacionados con las partículas celulares, que en la mayoría de los casos, precisó, su investigación se pasaba por alto puesto que no se daba importancia a sus posibles efectos, que ahora se sabe que son mayores de lo que se pensaba.

Hasta ahora se habían infravalorado los efectos de la biosfera por sí misma y de sus partículas en el clima, añadió el responsable de esa investigación, miembro de la Universidad Mainz en Alemania, al explicar los resultados de este estudio publicado en el último número de la revista Science, con el nombre "Abundancia de material celular y proteínas en la atmósfera".

Hasta el momento, agregó el experto, la comunidad científica acepta la hipótesis de que se desconoce alrededor del cuarenta por ciento de las partículas contenidas en la atmósfera, y por tanto, se necesita profundizar en la investigación en esa línea.

Según Jaenicke, las partículas celulares funcionan como núcleos de condensación de las nubes y el hielo, un proceso éste último necesario en la mayoría de las partes del mundo para que se inicien las precipitaciones.

Dado que el material de la caspa lo forman partículas celulares, también éste influye en estos procesos de condensación de precipitaciones y por tanto en el clima.

Otro de los aspectos investigados por este equipo de científicos se refiere a las partículas celulares y su relación con las alergias en las ciudades.

Desde hace décadas se estudia este problema de salud pero hasta el momento la investigación se había centrado en materiales como el polen o las bacterias y no tanto en los fragmentos celulares, que también podrían influir en las alergias, como se ha comprobado ahora.