Category: Science / Technology

Saturday, October 30, 2004

NASA photo analyst: Bush wore a device during debate
NASA photo analyst: Bush wore a device during debate
Physicist says imaging techniques prove the president’s bulge was not caused by wrinkled clothing.


- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Kevin Berger

Oct. 29, 2004 | George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge. “I don’t know what that is,” he said on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, referring to the infamous protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates. “I’m embarrassed to say it’s a poorly tailored shirt.”

Dr. Robert M. Nelson, however, was not laughing. He knew the president was not telling the truth. And Nelson is neither conspiracy theorist nor midnight blogger. He’s a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international authority on image analysis. Currently he’s engrossed in analyzing digital photos of Saturn’s moon Titan, determining its shape, whether it contains craters or canyons. 

Posted by SPN on 10/30 at 11:18 AM in Science / Technology
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rye Ergot and Witches

Tonight on NOVA I am watching a program to explain the strange behaviour around the world that was frequently blamed on witches.  Ergot alkaloids ingested in animals present similar affects as LSD.  Anybody want to grow some rye with me?
Many symptoms of ergot poisoning and the plague are similar. They probably coexisted. The worst plague damage occurred where ergot suppressed the human immune system and made people vulnerable. Records of plague deaths show huge regional variations. The plague probably followed pockets of rye ergot.

And what about witch hunts? The symptoms of bewitchment are consistent, but the way those symptoms were received was not. Crazy behavior was commonplace in the medieval plague years. The mad “Dance of Death” is a theme shot through medieval iconography. The spasms suffered by ergot victims were called St. Vitus Dance. Do you remember Ingmar Bergman’s wonderful movie about the plague, The Seventh Seal? It began and ended with the figure of death leading the doomed in an eerie dance across a hilltop.

Then, in the 1500s and 1600s, the symptoms of ergot were blamed on witches—all over Europe, and finally in Massachusetts. Witch hunts hardly occurred where people didn’t eat rye.

In the 1740s, the so called Age of Rationalism, ergot symptoms became a mark of holy, not demonic, possession. Visions, trances, and spasms were read as religious ecstasy. It was a period of religious revival that historians call the Great Awakening.

Posted by SPN on 10/27 at 07:42 PM in Science / Technology
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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Is Bush Wired?

My question is, “If he was being spoonfed answers, why couldn’t he have been spoon fed BETTER answers?”

Posted by SPN on 10/17 at 12:42 PM in Science / Technology
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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bush’s bulge stirs media rumours

C’mon, leave the man’s bulge alone.


US President George W Bush during the first debate with Senator John Kerry on 30 September
A square patch was visible on Bush’s back during the debate [TV Pool Photo]
A bulge in the back of President George W Bush’s suit jacket during the first TV debate with John Kerry has triggered rumours that he was wired to get help.

Internet websites alleged the apparent bulge, during last week’s debate in Miami, was a radio receiver feeding him answers from an offstage aide.

The Bush campaign dismissed the claims, saying it was just a wrinkle in the presidential jacket.

It also denied some web reports that Mr Bush was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

“People have been spending too much time dealing with Internet conspiracies. It’s ridiculous,” Bush campaign manager Scott Stanzel was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Another campaign official said it was nothing more than a question of tailoring.

“There was nothing under his suit jacket,” Nicolle Devenish, the Bush campaign’s communications director, told the New York Times newspaper.

“It was most likely a rumpling of that portion of his suit jacket, or a wrinkle in the fabric,” Ms Devenish added.

President Bush’s tailor later said that the bulge was nothing more than a pucker along the jacket’s back seam, according to the Seattle Times newspaper.

Georges de Paris, who made the suit worn by Mr Bush, said the bulge was accentuated when the president crossed his arms and leaned forward. 

Posted by SPN on 10/10 at 09:20 AM in Science / Technology
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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Kalashnikov launches liquid weapon

LONDON, England (Reuters)—The creator of one of the world’s most famous guns, the AK-47 assault rifle, has launched another weapon in Britain—Kalashnikov vodka.

Lt. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented the AK-47 after being shot by German soldiers during World War II, said Monday he wanted to continue “the good name” of his gun.

“I’ve always wanted to improve and expand on the good name of my weapon by doing good things,” he told Reuters Television.

“So we decided to create a vodka under my name. And we wanted that vodka to be better than anything made, up until now, in both Russia and England.”

Posted by SPN on 09/21 at 12:38 PM in Science / Technology
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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Image flaw exposes Windows PCs

Oh No!  Not another reason to get rid of your Windows PC!
Image flaw exposes Windows PCs

Some viruses masquerade as images of pop singers
Computer users could be open to attack from malicious hackers because of the way that Windows displays some images.

Microsoft has issued a warning about a critical vulnerability in Windows that could let carefully crafted pictures act as bearers of malicious code.

The flaw was found in the code that the operating system and other Windows programs use to display images prepared in the popular Jpeg format.

The vulnerability has been found in more than a dozen Microsoft programs.

Millions affected

At risk programs include Office XP 2003, Office 2003, Windows Server 2003, Internet Explorer 6 plus some versions of Digital Image Pro and Picture It.

The software giant urged all users who are at risk to download and install a patch for the vulnerability.

Windows XP
Windows XP Service Pack 1
Windows Server 2003
Internet Explorer 6 SP1
Office XP SP3
Office 2003
Digital Image Pro 7.0
Digital Image Pro 9
Digital Image Suite 9
Greetings 2002
Picture It! 2002
Picture It! 7.0
Picture It! 9
Producer for PowerPoint
Project 2002 SP1
Project 2003
Visio 2002 SP2
Visio 2003
Visual Studio .NET 2002
Visual Studio .NET 2003

Posted by SPN on 09/16 at 05:37 PM in Science / Technology
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Friday, September 03, 2004

Space signal studied for alien contact - Sep 2, 2004

We aren’t alone inthe universe.  Good, because I was getting lonely.

You, lonely human, can help out the research project by donating your computer’s idle time to decipher the signals.  Just ask how.

Space signal studied for alien contact

Thursday, September 2, 2004 Posted: 9:52 AM EDT (1352 GMT)

LONDON, England (Reuters)—An unexplained radio signal from deep space could—just might be—contact from an alien civilization, New Scientist magazine reported on Thursday.

The signal, coming from a point between the Pisces and Aries constellations, has been picked up three times by a telescope in Puerto Rico.

There are other explanations besides extraterrestrial contact that may explain the signal. New Scientist said the signal could be generated by a previously unknown astronomical phenomenon or even be a by-product from the telescope itself.

But the mystery beam has excited astronomers across the world.

Posted by SPN on 09/03 at 09:40 AM in Science / Technology
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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Are We Getting Close to Legalizing Pot?


Thursday, July 08, 2004

BILL O’REILLY, HOST: In the “Unresolved Problem” segment tonight: The drive to legalize marijuana. In Oregon, a ballot measured this week would allow patients to possess six pounds of pot - that’s nearly two shopping carts full - if a health practitioner, not a doctor, said it was OK. That’s pretty much legalization if even a shaman could grant permission for you to toke in Oregon.

In Congress, a House bill that would disallow any federal prosecution of medical marijuana cases anywhere will likely be voted down - the feds taking a hard line against what many see as a ruse. Joining us now from Washington is Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason (search) magazine, a Libertarian publication, and Dr. Andrea Barthwell, the nation’s Deputy “Drug Czar.”

So Oregon, Doctor, I mean, this is, you know, any health practitioner. So you’re a shaman (search) from the Amazon and you set up shop. Come on, I mean, everybody knows this is a ruse. Am I wrong?

ANDREA BARTHWELL, MD: No, you’re absolutely right, Bill. This is what we’ve been trying to make clear to people when they have these proposals presented to them. This is not about getting medicine to people who are sick and dying. This is about making marijuana legal.

And the way in which it’s written, such that a person could have six pounds, as you say, enough to fill a shopping cart…


BARTHWELL: Two shopping carts, really. It allows a person so much marijuana that they could supply a whole community of schoolchildren with enough marijuana…

O’REILLY: Yeah, absolutely.

BARTHWELL: ... to keep them intoxicated for days at a time.

O’REILLY: Right. There’s no question this is a ruse. But there is a legitimate issue here, Doctor. We had Montel Williams on a few weeks back. He has MS. And I believe Montel Williams when he says, “Look, medical marijuana helps me, helps me cope with this disease, cope with my suffering. There’s no reason why I should be denied it.” And I agree with Montel Williams that if this is the case, if a doctor - a doctor - says that he needs it for his MS, he should have it. You don’t disagree with that, do you?

BARTHWELL: Well, I do, actually. There is nothing that tells us from the science now that smoked, crude botanical should be a medication. We have a process that has been in place for 100 years in this country that protects the sick and dying from snake oil salesmen. And just because something makes you feel better doesn’t make it medicine.

O’REILLY: Yeah, but you’re dealing with theory and I want to deal with reality. And we’ll get to you, Mr. Gillespie, in a moment. Montel Williams (search) believes, because he actively smokes marijuana, that it helps his MS. See, and I’m saying to myself, if we’re going to err here - and he believes it and it helps him - let him have it. It’s not hurting society.

BARTHWELL: Well, it actually does hurt society. It undermines rather than under-girds our prevention efforts when we have a very mixed message out there to young people about marijuana. In addition to that, it undermines the practice of medicine in this country.

We develop, the FDA, a process of bringing medications to the marketplace, because snake oil salesmen peddled products to people at the turn of the century that made them feel better.

O’REILLY: All right.

BARTHWELL: No one would argue that cocaine would make him feel better. Are we trying to make that medicine too?

O’REILLY: No, no, no. But cocaine is a different - cocaine is a much, much, much stronger drug than marijuana is. And I don’t think you could make the comparison.

Posted by SPN on 09/02 at 01:37 PM in Science / Technology
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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Explorers find world’s deepest hole

You are absolutely right.  It IS between Dubya’s ears!

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP)—Cave explorers discovered a pit inside a mountain range in central Croatia believed to have the world’s deepest subterranean vertical drop, at nearly 1,700 feet, a scientific institute reported Monday.

The cave, in Croatia’s mountainous Velebit region, has a steady, weaving descent of 203 feet before it takes a direct vertical plunge of 1,693 feet through the ground, said Ana Sutlovic Baksic, a researcher at the Velebit Speleological Society.

The cave’s widest stretch is about 100 feet.

“We have even bigger caves in Croatia, but according to available data, this cave has the world’s deepest vertical drop,” Sutlovic Baksic said.

At the foot of the Velebit cave are small ponds and streams, including one of the largest known colonies of subterranean leeches, Sutlovic Baksic said.

It is located in the Rozanski Hip National Park reserve in the rocky Velebit mountain range in central Croatia. The pit was discovered by a team of explorers from around the country.

The Voronya Cave in Georgia’s West Caucasus has the world’s deepest cavern, measuring 5,610 feet. But the pit discovered in Croatia is thought to have the largest underground vertical drop.

Croatia, which is rich in natural wonders, is home to two of the world’s 20 deepest caves.

The Velebit region is Croatia’s largest mountain range, attracting speleologists, botanists and hikers from around the world. Much of the rugged area remains untouched, and scientific expeditions over its vast expanse covered by rare flora and fauna have been ongoing for years.

Posted by SPN on 08/10 at 09:11 AM in Science / Technology
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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Squirrels emit ‘silent scream’

They also emit a LOUD scream when hit with a car.

By Julianna Kettlewell
BBC News Online science staff

High-pitched sounds are used by rodents in all sorts of situations
Ground squirrels make an alarm call so high pitched that we cannot even hear it, scientists report in Nature.
While studying the little rodents, researchers noticed that some of them made faint whispering sounds, as if they had lost their voices.

But when these “silent screams” were processed by a bat detector, an abundance of ultrasound was detected.

The researchers believe the whispers might be “secret” alarm calls - that the squirrels’ predators cannot hear.

Breathy rush

It is well documented that bats use ultrasonic calls to locate their prey. But, in other animals, the use of this extremely high-pitched sound is not particularly well understood.

Scientists know that some rodents make ultrasonic noises, but they have never been able to work out exactly what they are for.

The problem is that the sounds are used by rodents in all sorts of situations; and they elicit all sorts of responses. So it is hard for observers to unravel the circumstances under which these calls are used.

Now, at last, researchers have detected an ultrasonic call with, they think, a clear meaning

What’s that noise?

Posted by SPN on 07/29 at 01:57 PM in Science / Technology
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