Monday, 27 August 2012

Entertainment stuff from the week 20-26/8/12

Red Dwarf X teaser: 'Kryten and the Cat in sync'
http://youtu.be/BYBcMjxgo_M

| For the Dwarfers:
| https://twitter.com/RichardDGNaylor/status/238961779089231872/photo/1
| http://llewblog.squarespace.com/red-dwarf/2012/8/20/unusual-audience-members.html
|
| We have the names of the episodes, too:
|  Trojan -- Fathers And Suns -- Lemons -- Entangled -- Dear Dave -- The Beginning
| http://llewblog.squarespace.com/red-dwarf/2012/8/22/red-dwarf-x-episode-titles.html
|
| And onset pics:
| http://uktv.co.uk/dave/blogpost/aid/653473
|
| The new series might... *might*... be first airing on the 4th October:
| http://ganymede.tv/atspeed/2012/08/tv-trailer-incoming-tomorrow-also-vindalunar

'Rolling In The Higgs' (parody of 'Rolling In The Deep' by Adele)
http://youtu.be/VtItBX1l1VY

'Israeli biblical park outfits donkeys with Wi-Fi'
A theme park intended to immerse tourists within the heady biblical atmosphere of ancient pre-Israel has fitted its donkeys with Wi-Fi :-/
"Scherr visited the park with his wife and children, all dressed in traditional garb. The family could easily have been mistaken for shepherds from a bygone age — were it not for their Camelbacks, iPads and smartphones."
Well, you'd have to be a bonkers-nut-job to want to go there, anyway. Who'd notice the ass-ininity (get it?) of a stone age donkey with a sun roof, games console, and power steering?
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-israeli-biblical-outfits-donkeys-wi-fi.html

Pareidolic fingers on Mars:
http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/08/find-the-finger-in-this-foto-of-mars/

Best pareidolia ever?
http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/best-pareidolia-ever-2/

"A Finnish teenager has smashed the world record -- and probably his phone -- in this year's annual mobile-phone throwing contest in Finland."
""There will be no doping tests," organisers said on their English website."
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-world-mobile-phone-contest.html
'tis true:
http://youtu.be/JOySGkgnEps

Justin Hawkins interview:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/aug/23/darkness-justin-hawkins-30-minutes
And Justin's new hand - with Queen all over it!
http://www.queenonline.com/en/news-archive/darkness-we-will-rock-you-genius/

Official album sampler for the special edition 'Barcelona' album, out on 3rd September (samples all tracks)
http://youtu.be/WjpEuUhwSIU


Superstition Of The Week: Spatilomancy -- divination by prodding around in horse shit

Not to be confused with splatomancy:
http://www.encyclo.co.uk/define/spatilomancy

Film Quote Of The Week: "Gentlemen -- you can't fight in here -- this is the War Room!" - Dr. Strangelove

Weird Word Of The Week: Head Cheese.

Not to be confused with smegma!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_cheese


'And "Misleading Y-axis Of The Year" goes to... Fox News!'
LOL - it ranges from 34 to 42%, deliberately to inflate the perceived difference between "NOW" and "Jan. 1, 2013"
http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/and-misleading-y-axis-of-the-year-goes-to-fox

Rock Against Repatriation (with Brian May) - Sailing (Instrumental Version)
http://youtu.be/1uGgfYY9T6o

Problem, Einstein xD
http://www.gigglesglore.com/pic/1051/Problem

Michael Legge gives a talk to the Edinburgh Fringe, about 'psychic' charlatan Joe power, and how embarrassingly crap he is. Very funny. Slightly sweary, LOL
http://youtu.be/5UH_QXF7lJ0

Try one of these -- if you dare!
http://www.daveansell.co.uk/?q=taxonomy/term/1

Funny pics (from Lizzy the lezzy's Facebook feed):

"Our muffins are moist and sticky, just like Fanny's."
http://underscoopfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/66The_Innocence_Of_50_s_Adver.jpg

"Muff.a.licious"
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a190/kraymond19/SavorMuff.jpg

Inspired by Todd Akin's bizarre making-shit-up-like-a-true-politician moment:

'7 of the Craziest Myths About Female Biology of All Time'
http://www.alternet.org/gender/7-craziest-myths-about-female-biology-all-time?paging=off

The Onion's parody:
http://www.theonion.com/articles/pregnant-woman-relieved-to-learn-her-rape-was-ille,29258/?ref=auto


A joke. Gratuitiously nationalistic; but it still made me chuckle:

Frau Merkel arrives at passport control in Athens:
"Nationality?" asks the immigration officer.
.... "German" she replied.
"Occupation?"
...."No, just here for a few days"...


Buggered-up bathroom builds:
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354349.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354350.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354351.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354352.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354353.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354354.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354355.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354356.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354357.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120426_att6354358.jpg

"Get your mind out of the gutter!", they say. But life's so much fun from there...

http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image00111.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image00222.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image00333.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image00444.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image00555.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image00666.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image00777.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image00888.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120425_image0101010.jpg

More funnies, to finish:

http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image010.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image012.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image013.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image015.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image016.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image017.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/att00237.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image019.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image020.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/20120504_image021.jpg
http://humour2.bluehaze.com.au/files/att00255.jpg

History stuff from the weeks 30/7 - 26/8/12

First up, a story that will fascinate some, and send the rest to sleep:

Historians have discovered long-lost accounting records dating back to the 15th century, regarding activities in London.
The ledger records are not enough to infer the company's financial position, but they do give us a sample of the goods that were traded -- raw wool, woollen cloth, tin, (exports) and spices, dyes, other luxuries (imports).
For some unknown reason, they were not returned to Italy for use, but remained in London, and, 55 years later, were used as scrap, to draw coats of arms on!
Raw wool, woollen cloth and tin were popular exports, while we imported spices, dyes and other luxury goods.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-qm-historians-medieval-banking-hidden.html#jCp
Raw wool, woollen cloth and tin were popular exports, while we imported spices, dyes and other luxury goods.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-qm-historians-medieval-banking-hidden.html#jCp
Raw wool, woollen cloth and tin were popular exports, while we imported spices, dyes and other luxury goods.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-qm-historians-medieval-banking-hidden.html#jCp
Raw wool, woollen cloth and tin were popular exports, while we imported spices, dyes and other luxury goods.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-qm-historians-medieval-banking-hidden.html#jCp
Raw wool, woollen cloth and tin were popular exports, while we imported spices, dyes and other luxury goods.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-qm-historians-medieval-banking-hidden.html#jCp
Raw wool, woollen cloth and tin were popular exports, while we imported spices, dyes and other luxury goods.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-qm-historians-medieval-banking-hidden.html#jCp
Raw wool, woollen cloth and tin were popular exports, while we imported spices, dyes and other luxury goods.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-qm-historians-medieval-banking-hidden.html#jCp

Gosh, what a terrible, punning title!
 
'Science puts snakes on a plain'
The article is about Coniophis precedens - a proto-snake with a mid-way form between that of modern snakes - no legs, lots of vertebrae, wide bite - and its reptilian ancestors.
Coniophis precedens had the legless body, but did not have the wide bite of modern snakes, limiting it to smaller prey.
"All known Coniophis fossils come from floodplains in eastern Wyoming and Montana — from the same soil deposits as mammals and terrestrial lizards, including the dinosaurs T. rex and Triceratops — indicating that snakes evolved as terrestrial rather than as marine animals."
And that is where the tenuous link to plains comes in!
The researchers say that Coniophis was something of a living fossil, while alive, much like coelocanth is today, because it lived with snakes much more similar to the modern varieties.
All known Coniophis fossils come from floodplains in eastern Wyoming and Montana — from the same soil deposits as mammals and terrestrial lizards, including the dinosaurs T. rex and Triceratops — indicating that snakes evolved as terrestrial rather than as marine animals

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-science-snakes-plain.html#jCp

A curious Aztec burial has been found in Mexico City's Templo Mayor.
The site contains a tree (believed to be held as 'sacred' by the Aztecs, and the body of a woman, surrounded by a pile of 1789 other human bones.
"The institute said some of the bones showed what may be cut marks to the sternum or vertebrae, places where a ritual heart extraction might leave a mark, but added that it didn't seem likely the dead were sacrificed on the spot to accompany the burial because their bones were found separated."
"The researchers discovered the skulls of seven adults and three children in one pile, long bones like femurs in another grouping, and ribs in another."
"Physical anthropologist Perla Ruiz, who was in charge of the dig, said that might suggest the bones were disinterred from previous burials and reburied with the woman. While some pre-Hispanic cultures disinterred bones as part of ancestor worship, it isn't clear the Aztecs did."
"The burial dates to about 1481 to 1486, based on the "stage" of temple buildings at which they were found. The Templo Mayor, like many sites, was rebuilt by successive generations, one stage atop another."
The institute said some of the bones showed what may be cut marks to the sternum or vertebrae, places where a ritual heart extraction might leave a mark, but added that it didn't seem likely the dead were sacrificed on the spot to accompany the burial because their bones were found separated. The researchers discovered the skulls of seven adults and three children in one pile, long bones like femurs in another grouping, and ribs in another. Physical anthropologist Perla Ruiz, who was in charge of the dig, said that might suggest the bones were disinterred from previous burials and reburied with the woman. While some pre-Hispanic cultures disinterred bones as part of ancestor worship, it isn't clear the Aztecs did. The burial dates to about 1481 to 1486, based on the "stage" of temple buildings at which they were found. The Templo Mayor, like many sites, was rebuilt by successive generations, one stage atop another.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-mexico-hundreds-bones-aztec-burial.html#jCp

What killed off the Mayans, who lived in what is now Guatemala?
It looks like climatic changes, exacerbated by their razing of surrounding forests, caused terrible drought conditions, making their way of life unsustainable.

Let's stay in the Americas for a while longer.
For the first time, proteomics  - the study of proteins, their structure, and their functions - has been used to identify that a frozen, 500-year-old, Incan girl was killed by a bacterial lung infection.
Swabs showed immune response to, as well as the presence of, a bacterial infection, which supported the observation of lung infection scars in X-ray scans.

And over to Egyptian mummies to finish:
What's this bloke doing in a lady's coffin?
"2005 research (based on CT scans and other data) revealed mummy NM R27.3 was actually a man inside the coffin of a woman."
The trouble with this find is that traders, exploiting enthusiasts' desire for all things ancient Egypt, would put coffins and mummies together, just because they could get a better price that way.
To infer that the individual, when alive, was a cross-dresser, or transsexual, would be to miss the very real possibility that they jumped coffins at some point, post-death.
2005 research (based on CT scans and other data) revealed mummy NM R27.3 was actually a man inside the coffin of a woman.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-mummy-mysteries-unraveled-high-tech.html#jCp

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Politics stuff from the week 20-26/8/12

Politician-making-shit-up story of the week:
Republican Congressman Todd Akin has claimed that raped women are very unlikely to get pregnant because the body has defences to prevent it.
 
He pulled this shit straight out of his backside!
 
"That is absolutely false," said Dr. George Attia, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which counts 56,000 members, also called the remarks "medically inaccurate, offensive and dangerous."
These repudiations should not be necessary, but we know full well that there will be some authoritarian dimwits who will believe him. Await quotes!
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-truth-akin-rape-hinders-pregnancy.html

'Tanning beds good for you. That’s what they used to say about cigarettes too.'
"Another industry linked to cancer-causing practices pulls a page out of the book of Big Tobacco."
http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/08/tanning-beds-good-for-you-thats-what-they-used-to-say-about-cigarettes-too/

Having mentioned tobacco...
'Epidemic of plain packaging to curb smoking uptake'
This is one epidemic that health professionals have longed for -- when one conforms, the whole industry is expected to follow.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528794.400-epidemic-of-plain-packaging-to-curb-smoking-uptake.html

Members of Anonymous have hacked the UK Ministry of Justice's web-site, to protest the injustices perpetrated by the UK government, in the way they've treated Julian Assange - the man at the heart of, and symbolic of, WikiLeaks - the organisation that plays such an important role in keeping governments and corporations to account.
The UK government has been complicit in the US' attempts to extradite Assange, by drawing attention to sexual assault allegations, in order to detract from the political importance of Assange and WikiLeaks' work.
Remember -- Assange has not been charged - he is only wanted for questioning - that does not require physical presence - they can only want him for detention. Lesser men have been detained indefinitely [cough: Guantanamo Bay].
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-hackers-uk-justice-ministry-site.html

China has hit back at the US' recent political attacks.
Earlier this year, China restricted the export of precious metals, due to their scarcity, and the fact that China has had to supply to the whole world what they were unwilling to mine themselves.
The US framed this action is a violation of free trade, because some US companies can't do business without cheap Chinese metals.
And now China's framed the US' subsidies to US-based renewable power as a violation of free trade, because foreign companies can't do business with State-backed competitors.
Now -- does this feel slightly rhetorical to you?
Yup - same here.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-china-energy-violate-free.html

While the industry-corruption-retarded States of the 'West' resist compensation for the damage they have done and are continuing to do, lesser countries are attempting to pick up the slack.
'Philippines sets up climate change fund'
£24 million is a paltry amount, that any US corporation would miss as much as an errant paperclip; but what else can they do? The main offenders certainly aren't setting a good example.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-philippines-climate-fund.html

'Call to boycott killer robots'
Many of the scientists who worked in the Manhattan Project rued the consequences that the development of nuclear power for weapons had on humanity.
It's true that people are more likely to wage war when they feel invulnerable -- that is how theism has facilitated and exacerbated conflict for so many millennia.
But scientists aren't rich - a call to boycott military drone production is unlikely to result in many rejecting a much-needed wage-packet.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-boycott-killer-robots.html

SO2 pollution in ports has dropped by 66%, in direct thanks to the EU's regulations. 'Boo' to the Europhobes, who think they do only evil.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-air-quality-harbours-eu-policies.html

Astrophysics stuff from the week 20-26/8/12

A surprisingly good picture of one of Mars' two moons - Phobos - if you have 3D glasses, that is.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-fantastic-phobos.html

'First evidence discovered of planet's destruction by its star'
Evidence has been seen of a planet destroyed by its host star, as it inflated during its red dwarf stage -- this is expected to happen to our own star, with the Sun ingesting Mercury, Venus, and possibly Earth. Regardless of whether Earth is absorbed, everything on it will be roasted!
The star itself - 'BD+48 740' - is older than the Sun, and 11 times bigger by radius - it also has a planet of 1.6 Jupiter masses orbiting it, in a highly elliptical orbit.
The astronomers were notified of the other planet's absorption, by spectroscopic analysis of the star, which revealed a high lithium signature.
Lithium is known to be fused away into other elements, within the first 3 million years of stars' lives. Presence of lithium usually indicates that the star will not have yet made its way onto the Main Sequence of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram - where most stars (like our one) are situated.
Clearly, being a Red Dwarf, this isn't quite right - the lithium must have been absorbed from somewhere else - a metallic body - a planet.
The astronomers suspect that the subject planet's dive into the star was part of an interaction that 'boomeranged' the other planet into the exceptionally elliptical orbit that it now occupies.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-planet-destruction-star.html

More about oddly orbiting planets:
'Jet-set young sun pushed baby planets off kilter'
Exoplanets have been seen in weirdly off-centre orbits around their stars, and this is inferred to be because of interactions with other planets, causing them to ping off in an odd direction.
But the planets of our own solar system are also off-kilter - 6 degrees mis-aligned from the Sun's equator. This mild eccentricity suggests it's the Sun that's been shoved.
"Hubble observations in the past 10 years have revealed that young stars with planet-forming discs can shoot jets of material from their poles. Often one jet can carry up to twice as much material as the other. Whichever jet is stronger pushes on the star."
"[Namouni] ran 2000 supercomputer simulations of the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, which hold most of the solar system's planetary mass, over the lifetime of the sun. In most cases, the simulations that included the asymmetric jets produced planets with a 6-degree tilt."
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528795.200-jetset-young-sun-pushed-baby-planets-off-kilter.html

[video] BIG cosmology, now:
'WiggleZ confirms the Big Picture of the Universe'
Einstein's cosmological equations assumed that the universe would be smooth at the largest scales, but this was an assumption. If wrong, it would mean a rewrite to cope with those largest scales.
Using the Anglo-Australian Telescope, PhD student Morag Scrimgeour has found that on scales larger than 350 million light years, matter is distributed extremely evenly, with little sign of fractal-like patterns, finding Einstein's assumption to be well-founded after all.
http://www.icrar.org/news/news_items/media-releases/wigglez-confirms-the-big-picture-of-the-universe

'The Milky Way now has a twin (or two)'
The Milky Way is not peculiar, it seems. While typical, in isolation, the Milky Way has been thought odd to have the Magellanic clouds as companions through the cosmos.
Astronomers from Australia to Scotland have teamed up, and found that there are galaxies in a similar position.
"Everything had to come together at once: we needed telescopes good enough to detect not just galaxies but their faint companions, we needed to look at large sections of the sky, and most of all we needed to make sure no galaxies were missed in the survey"
"We found about 3% of galaxies similar to the Milky Way have companion galaxies like the Magellanic Clouds, which is very rare indeed. In total we found 14 galaxy systems that are similar to ours, with two of those being an almost exact match," says Dr Robotham.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-milky-twin.html

[video] I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, in 'Astrophysics', and the event has arrived -- Voyager 2's journey into space is now 35 years old!
Voyagers 1 and 2 are 18 and 15 billion kilometres from the Sun, respectively, and are telling us things about the solar system that no-one sitting on Earth could possibly see from here.
As Voyager 1 makes its way out of the Sun's heliosphere, we will for the first time, be able to say that mankind has put something into inter-stellar space, and we will finally be able to find out what's really going on 'outside'.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-voyager-side.html

'Supernovae of the same brightness, cut from vastly different cosmic cloth'
Unlike in a Type II supernova, where the mass of the star itself is purely to blame for the subsequent explosion, Type Ia supernova can be caused by different conditions, so long as there is a White Dwarf star to 'go bang'.
One of the mentioned supernovae occurred as a Red Giant's matter was cleaved off, onto the White Dwarf, resulting in a very bright supernova. This, of course, can happen repeatedly, as long as the White Dwarf remains existant.
In comparison, the system SN 2011fe shows no evidence of a Red Giant, indicating that there multiple ways to 'cut a stellar rug'.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-supernovae-brightness-vastly-cosmic.html

-----------------------------------------------------

Recently Sally Ride, and now Neil Armstrong has died, aged 82. It's a reminder to us all, how time passes - all our heroes are getting old.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19381098
Sally Ride:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18963939

Biology and Wildlife stuff from the week 20-26/8/12

Biggest news story of the week: an exceptional bonobo, who has learned how to fashion tools from flint, and has learned English comprehension.
"Kanzi the bonobo continues to impress. Not content with learning sign language or making up "words", he now seems capable of making stone tools on a par with the efforts of early humans."
It would likely take only a few individuals like Tanzi, in a group with the superior language abilities of homo sapiens, for what we tend to call 'civilisation' to commence its long climb, into what we know today.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-bonobo-stone-tools-ancient-human.html
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528795.400-bonobo-genius-makes-stone-tools-like-early-humans-did.html
[video] http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xt00nv_bonobo-can-make-stone-tools-like-early-humans_news
[video] http://www.insidescience.org/?q=content/bonobo-stone-tools-competent-ancient-human/768

Tits really are social animals.
No, i'm not making a joke about how they always come in pairs -- the bird species will aid their neighbours when their nests are pestered, and are more likely to do so, the better they know their neighbours.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-great-tits-defend-neighbours.html

Wasps don't waste their poison - they make sure predators know how poisonous they are by grading their brightness to the size of their poison glands.
"It might be thought that bigger wasps have bigger poison glands, and this is indeed true, but even when the data was adjusted to take in to account the size of the insect, a positive correlation between gland size and brightness remained."
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-wasp-cries-wolf.html

Can aphids do photosynthesis?
They would be the first animal found to be able to do so -- some amphibians integrate algae into their skin - but that's not quite the same.
Aphids are the only insects known to have the genes to produce carotenoids, which harvest light for photosynthesis.
They produce more ATP than cousins bred to lack carotenoids, but that doesn't explain the mechanism - some other mechanism could be causing light exposure to increase ATP production inside the aphids' bodies.
Even if the carotenoids aren't responsible for enhanced ATP production, they are responsible for the aphids' colour -- that's why they're green. So now you know.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528795.700-aphids-may-be-first-photosynthesising-animal.html

[video] Bluegill sunfish prefer to hunt lone prey, but if unavailable, they will go for the least ordered group - the one with the highest tortuosity.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-video-gaming-fish-advantages-groups-video.html
http://youtu.be/CSYGhLJl1ck

'Rat that doesn't gnaw discovered in Indonesia'
Rodents account for 40% of living mammal species, and they owe much of their success to their teeth, but one has been found to have very few - Paucidentomys vermidax has no molars, and its incisors are shaped for gripping food rather than gnawing.
The researcher found the rat's stomach to contain remains of earthworms. If it eats only soft-bodied animals, that would explain the dearth of its teeth.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-rat-doesnt-gnaw-indonesia.html

'Cultured killer whales learn by copying'
"THE killer whale has a ferocious appetite for imitation. It is as quick as a dolphin when it comes to picking up a new trick from one of its peers."
"The whales took no more than eight attempts to successfully imitate a familiar behaviour, and even the new behaviours took no more than 16 tries to perfect.
That puts them on a par with captive dolphins, says Abramson."
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528795.600-cultured-killer-whales-learn-by-copying.html

[audio] 'Helium-Breathing Gibbons Sing Like Human Sopranos'
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/gibbon-soprano-singing/

According to a study of 12 and 18-month human toddlers, fear of heights is not innate - they found that, unlike experienced walkers and 12-month-old crawlers, inexperienced walkers would attempt 90-cm drops - well beyond their inabilities.
They have therefore concluded that:
"some of the general knowledge that infants appear to gain early in life may in fact be highly specific and tightly linked to their emerging motor abilities."
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-infants-drop-off-specific-motor-ability.html

[video] Molecular Visualizations of DNA
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120821.html
On that subject:
'Scientists manipulate the Set2 pathway to show how genes are faithfully copied'
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-scientists-set2-pathway-genes-faithfully.html

Climate stuff from the fortnight 13-26/8/12

Warming climate has long been expected to cause an increase in the variability of weather - atmospheric events - and this includes the biggest rain band in the southern hemisphere, which occurs over the Pacific, east of Indonesia.
These bands of weather wiggle around, like vibrating strings, as can be seen from satellite images, and climatic warming is exacerbating these wiggles, resulting in increased variability of rain, as perceived by any fixed, ground-based observer.
This is expected to happen in conjunction with El Nino events. Modelling the changes in weather will be a lot harder than modelling the change in climate, however, because weather is short-change fluctuations.
"During extreme El NiƱo events, such as 1982/83 and 1997/98, the band moved northward by up to 1000 kilometres. The shift brings more severe extremes, including cyclones to regions such as French Polynesia that are not accustomed to such events," said Dr Cai, a scientist at the Wealth from Oceans Flagship.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-extreme-shifts-southern-hemisphere-largest.html

I'm now pretty sure that the surface melt mentioned in recent weeks, has contributed to some major melting.
'Greenland melting breaks record four weeks before season's end'
"Professor Tedesco noted that these changes jibe with what most of the models predict – the difference is how quickly this seems to be happening."
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-greenland-weeks-season.html

Going, going... almost gone. Arctic ice is expected to completely clear during summers, by 2030. The last record for low ice was set in 2007. New records will probably be set every few years, until 2030.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528783.200-arctic-sea-ice-heads-for-record-low.html

"By popular demand, a thread devoted to the continuing decline of Arctic sea ice, and a potential new record minimum this year. As before, the figures are hot-linked and will update day-by-day."
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/08/arctic-sea-ice-minimum-2012/

'Changeable climate makes frogs vulnerable to disease'
Frogs exposed to chytrid fungus have worse prospects if they live in climates that change according to a regular pattern, and worst if they live in climates that change according to irregular patterns.
This could be a mechanism contributing to the demise of many frog species, around the world, as the climate warms, and the weather exhibits more and greater extremities.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22166-changeable-climate-makes-frogs-vulnerable-to-disease.html

Sea-level rise on Virginia's coast is expected to be from 2.3 to 5.2 feet (70 to 158 cm ) into the coming century, which will cause Virginia's largest city to shrink by 45000 acres.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-uva-virginians-sea-level.html

'New satellite data on melting of Himalayan glaciers'
Like the melt from Greenland and Antarctica's ice sheets, we know the ice of the Himalayas' glaciers is melting, but we don't know how fast.
"researchers concluded the glaciers were losing around 50 billion tonnes of ice each year, but the same data was interpreted earlier [as] around five billion tonnes."
A whole order of magnitude - those are big error bars!
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-satellite-himalayan-glaciers.html

Extreme metrics -- Hansen et al's data for decadal average global temperatures, which shows a trend toward greater variance in climatic conditions.
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/08/extreme-metrics/

'Antarctic Peninsula warming: natural variability or “global warming”?'
It is a real signal.
The trend is strong and unambiguous.
The warming almost certainly caused the ice sheet melt observed over recent decades.
And when considered in conjunction with global analyses, we can say that this is evidence of anthropogenic global warming.
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/08/antarctic-peninsula-warming-natural-variability-of-global-warming/

A correction about last week's US-emissions article:
The emissions for the US have merely been exported to other countries - while using more fossil gas themselves, they have exported the coal, meaning no overall decrease in emissions. Thanks, guys!
"Gas is less bad than coal," says Anderson, "but only if you keep the coal in the ground."
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528794.200-lowest-us-carbon-emissions-wont-slow-climate-change.html

Medicine stuff from the fortnight 13-26/8/12

Are Energy Drinks Safe? - C0nc0rdance
http://youtu.be/RFRKRJFtWx0

New Tech To Cure Blindness (Brainstorm Ep98)
http://youtu.be/WsVXXNbyKQc

People with depression often speak in a flat, monotonous way, and also speak slower, and with longer hesitations, most obviously in those who are severely depressed.
This means it might be feasible to assess people's depressive symptoms by simply giving them a phone call, and using their mode of speech to assess their condition.
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-speech-marker-depression-treatment-response.html

"Brain imaging and post-mortem studies provide evidence that the wealth of connections in the brain are reduced in individuals with depression, with the result of impaired functional connections between key brain centers involved in mood regulation."
This is the so-called 'vicious spiral' - depression undermines ability to cope with experiences, locking the sufferer into more depression.
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-brain-growth-depression.html

It might seem frivolous to us, but poor oral health - mitigated by brushing teeth, and fluoridation of drinking water - can have a serious effect on the sufferer's life.
Kids miss days of schooling to deal with dental problems, incurring missed work days for their parents, too, and usually because the kids' teeth weren't maintained effectively.
"Eleven percent of children who had limited access to dental care—whether due to lack of insurance, lack of transportation, or other barriers—missed school due to their poor oral health, as opposed to only four percent of children who had easier access to dental care."
As was been outlined in a New Scientist special, health and socio-economic status are intrinsically linked -- poor health causes poverty, and vice versa.
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-poor-oral-health-school-grades.html

Despite being regarded as a problem that mainly effects men, sleep apnoea - where the airways clamp of during sleep, causing breathing to stop, and often correlating with insomnia and snoring - is also common in women.
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-high-apnea-women.html

Yet another success story for vaccines:
'Chickenpox cases fall 80% over decade'
"Chickenpox cases in the United States dropped almost 80 percent between 2000 and 2010 in 31 states following routine use of the varicella vaccine"
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-chickenpox-cases-fall-decade-cdc.html

'Work has more benefits than just a paycheck for moms'
Ocean Dilemma again -- is the working lifestyle better for their health, or do the healthier women have healthier lifestyles, resulting in more work?
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-benefits-paycheck-moms.html

Stress at work, according to this study, doesn't seem good for women's health, where diabetes is concerned:
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-job-stress-diabetes-women.html

Note to remember: workers make fewer claims for mental illnesses than physical ones.
We can hypothesise that this will be due to fear of stigma about mental health difficulty, and also cultural attitude to whether mental illness is even real.
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-workers-psychological-illnesses.html

Pseudoscience stuff from the week 20-26/8/12

'The Dirty Tricks of Alternative Medicine'
Scary stuff. And, unfortunately, true.
http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2012/07/the-dirty-tricks-of-alternative-medicine.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-dirty-tricks-of-alternative-medicine

WARNING: As if quackery wasn't dangerous enough, Nelson Homeopathics is putting shards of glass in its shaken-water preparations. Accidentally, of coruse - because they're a bunch of feckless shysters who don't care about the health of their exploitees.
'FDA Raises Serious Concerns About UK’s Nelsons Homeopathics'
"Will Boots and Holland & Barrett remove these products from Sale?"
http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2012/08/fda-raises-serious-concerns-about-uks-nelsons-homeopathics.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fda-raises-serious-concerns-about-uks-nelsons-homeopathics

WARNING: Do not use Reumofan dietary supplements - they cause bleeding, stroke and death.
http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/08/fda-warns-reumofan-supplement-contains-dangerous-drugs/

More than 500 rhinos could die, this year, if there is no cessation of the fake-medicine horn trade
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-traffic-rhinos-perish-year.html

'Eastern' quackery isn't just a threat to rhinos. Seahorses and all kinds are used in the peddling of pseudo-medicine:
'Peru seizes 16,000 dried seahorses headed to Asia'
http://phys.org/news/2012-08-peru-seizes-dried-seahorses-asia.html

Including rare fish. There is no evidence that eating endangered fish is good for your health. It certainly isn't good for theirs.
http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/08/rare-fish-caught-threatened-with-pollution-and-overfishing-for-tcm/

The 'life by a thousand cuts' brigade have infiltrated MedicalXpress.
The Acu-quack-turists are claiming that stabbing people is effective and cost-effective as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
Their claims are farcical, of course - all of the patients will have received real medicine at the same time.
The only difference is that thousands of pounds will have unnecessarily been handed to a bunch of selfish charlatans.
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-acupuncture-alternative-knee-surgery-osteoarthritis.html

In case you're unaware, ayurvedic 'medicine' is the Indian branch of superstitious fake medicine.
The ayurvedicists have a particular penchant for poisoning people with lead, so this isn't really news, but it deserves to be mentioned.
'US finds lead poisoning from Ayurvedic medicines'
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-poisoning-ayurvedic-medicines.html

Those psychics are really lovely people, aren't they...
'Blackmail by psychic curse'
"the victim stopped paying and the psychic got mad, calling and threatening to enact more curses. That’s some serious intimidation."
http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/08/blackmail-by-psychic-curse/
See Michael Legge giving a talk to the Edinburgh Fringe, about 'psychic' charlatan Joe power, and how embarrassingly crap he is. Very funny. Slightly sweary, LOL
http://youtu.be/5UH_QXF7lJ0

'Green tea extract touted as cancer cure'
'In vivo' and 'in vitro' have separate meanings - 'in vivo' means 'in a living organism', 'in vitro' means 'in glass' (directly from latin), Think of the vitreous humour - the fluid inside the eye - which is like glass.
That something kills cancer cells in a glass dish does not mean it will work in real people. Soapy water kills pathogens, but you mustn't drink it, or you'll die yourself!
Drinking green tea will not cure you of cancer -- watch out for claims that it can!
http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/08/green-tea-extract-touted-as-cancer-cure/

'Warning: Gems and vitamins are not viable health treatments. Stop claiming it is.'
"Dear Iowa Board of Medicine: Thank you.
People making health claims about their services really get on my nerves. If you are not qualified to claim that you can treat people for illness, it’s a travesty to say that you can. When you can prove gems heal people, then come back and try for legitimacy. I won’t hold my breath."
http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/08/warning-gems-and-vitamins-are-not-viable-health-treatments-stop-claiming-it-is/