Homeland Security To Use Social Networks For Alerts, vnunet.com
Excerpts: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has developed a tool for MySpace users to get emergency broadcast warnings for natural disasters. The tool saw its first deployment after Hurricane Gustaf came ashore at the start of the week. Officials from the DHS asked MySpace to fast track the applications after the storm hit and it went live on Tuesday. "What you are seeing us doing with DHS and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) is the beginning of bigger things to come in the future (...). "Tragedy often inspires people to do great things and this has happened here. "
E-Mails, Conspiracy Rumors Plague Palin, Politico
Excerpts: "Information abhors a vacuum, and like Barack Obama was at first, Sarah Palin was an unknown quanity," said the internet folklorist David Emery. "When you have all that pressure and very little information--that's when the rumors start flying." (...)
"There are a large number of people who are very suspicious of Sarah Palin that are looking for a face to put on it, and these stories are ways to try to dramatize that," said Bill Ellis, an expert on urban legends at Penn State University. (...)
Patricia Turner, who studies rumors and urban legends at the University of California Davis, said she has a forthcoming paper titled, "What do Barack Obama and Snapple Iced Tea Have in Common?" The paper compares the whispered smears to the urban legends about ties to white supremacists that beset Snapple when it suddenly became popular.
Opening Search to Semantic Upstarts, Technology Review
Excerpts: Yahoo's new open-search platform is giving semantic search a helping hand.
Infovell's 'Research Engine' Finds Deep Web Pages That Google, Yahoo Miss, PhysOrg.com
According to a study by the University of California at Berkeley, traditional search engines such as Google and Yahoo index only about 0.2% of the Internet. The remaining 99.8%, known as the "deep Web," is a vast body of public and subscription-based information that traditional search engines can't access.
To dig into this "invisible" information, scientists have developed a new search engine called Infovell geared at helping researchers find often obscure data in the deep Web.
With Infovell, users search with key phrases up to 25,000 words long, rather than keywords.
Big Data: Welcome To The Petacentre, Nature
Big Data: Wikiomics, Nature
Excerpts: Pioneering biologists are trying to use wiki-type web pages to manage and interpret data, reports Mitch Waldrop. But will the wider research community go along with the experiment? (...)
Scientists write review articles and textbooks to make sense of it all. But it's still not enough.
Hence the proliferation of wikis, which have the potential to vastly multiply the number of annotators and bring in the most interested expertise: "The best people to do annotation are the researchers in the labora
Excerpts: In a startling new take on data center engineering, Google has filed a patent for a "water-based data center" that uses the ocean to provide power and cooling. The patent also confirms Google's development of a container-based data center, describing "crane-removable modules" to power the computing platforms.
The floating data centers would be located 3 to 7 miles from shore, in 50 to 70 meters of water. If perfected, this approach could be used to build 40 megawatt data centers that don't require real estate or property taxes.
A Systems Approach To Unravel Complex Water Management Institutions, Ecol. Complexity
Excerpts: The study unravels the complexity of water management institutions by analysing the interactive nature of actors and rules to a particular water-related problem, using a systems approach in a hamlet in the Indian Himalayas. The approach builds on the strengths of institutional analysis development framework, but makes amendments to suit complex and adaptive water management institutions. It applies multiple research methods to collect both qualitative and quantitative information (...). (...) the study reveals human entities - stakeholders, actors and agents - occupy different positions, which they actively shift in a problem context and when agents pursue ‘projects' by integrating diverse rules and resources to remain adaptive. (...)
- Source: Ecological Complexity, , V. S. Saravanan, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecocom.2008.04.003, PhysOrg.com, Sep. 2008, online
- Contributed by Pritha Das - prithadas01yahoo.com
The Increasing Intensity Of The Strongest Tropical Cyclones
Excerpts: Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger on average, with a 30-year trend that has been related to an increase in ocean temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere1, 2, 3, 4. Over the rest of the tropics, however, possible trends in tropical cyclone intensity are less obvious, owing to the unreliability and incompleteness of the observational record and to a restricted focus, in previous trend analyses, on changes in average intensity. Here we overcome these two limitations by examining trends in the upper quantiles of per-cyclone maximum wind speeds (that is, the maximum intensities that cyclones achieve during their lifetimes), estimated from homogeneous data derived from an archive of satellite records. We find significant upward trends for wind speed quantiles above the 70th percentile, with trends as high as 0.3 0.09 m s-1 yr-1 (s.e.) for the strongest cyclones. We note separate upward trends in the estimated lifetime-maximum wind speeds of the very strongest tropical cyclones (99th percentile) over each ocean basin, with the largest increase at this quantile occurring over the North Atlantic, although not all basins show statistically significant increases. Our results are qualitatively consistent with the hypothesis that as the seas warm, the ocean has more energy to convert to tropical cyclone wind.
Cloud-Seeding Ships Could Combat Climate Change
It should be possible to counteract the global warming associated with a doubling of carbon dioxide levels by enhancing the reflectivity of low-lying clouds above the oceans, (...) this can be done using a worldwide fleet of autonomous ships spraying salt water into the air.
Artist's impression of a Flettner spray vessel. The wind would be blowing from the right-hand side of the image, the rotor spin would be clockwise as seen from above, and the rotors would push the vessel to the left. (Courtesy: J. MacNeill)
Clouds are a key component of the Earth's climate system. They can both heat the planet by trapping the longer-wavelength radiation given off from the Earth's surface and cool it by reflecting incoming shorter wavelength radiation back into space. The greater weight of the second mechanism means that, on balance, clouds have a cooling effect.
Flood Or Drought: How Do Aerosols Affect Precipitation?, Nature
Excerpts: Aerosols serve as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and thus have a substantial effect on cloud properties and the initiation of precipitation. Large concentrations of human-made aerosols have been reported to both decrease and increase rainfall as a result of their radiative and CCN activities. At one extreme, pristine tropical clouds with low CCN concentrations rain out too quickly to mature into long-lived clouds. On the other hand, heavily polluted clouds evaporate much of their water before precipitation can occur, if they can form at all given the reduced surface heating resulting from the aerosol haze layer. We propose a conceptual model that explains this apparent dichotomy.
Evolving Designer Ecosystem Sheds Light On Unintended Consequences, Innovations-report
Excerpts: What are the consequences of human-made tinkering with land cover and hydrology on surrounding native desert ecosystems and biodiversity? This question forms the backdrop for a case study (...) which found that one of the most profound impacts of urbanization is the "reconfiguration of surface hydrology." (...) found that construction of artificial lakes and canal systems along with extensive groundwater pumping have had "unintended impacts on nutrient cycling." (...)
Network Scaling Reveals Consistent Fractal Pattern In Hierarchical Mammalian Societies, Biol. Lett.
Excerpts: Excerpt: Recent studies have demonstrated that human societies are hierarchically structured with a consistent scaling ratio across successive layers of the social network; each layer of the network is between three and four times the size of the preceding (smaller) grouping level. Here we show that similar relationships hold for four mammalian taxa living in multi-level social systems. For elephant (Loxodonta africana), gelada (Theropithecus gelada) and hamadryas (Papio hamadryas hamadryas) baboon, successive layers of social organization have a scaling ratio of almost exactly 3, indicating that such branching ratios may be a consistent feature of all hierarchically structured societies. (...)
Biologists on the Verge of Creating New Form of Life, Wired
Modern life is far more complex than the simple systems that Szostak and others are working on, so the protocells don't look anything like the cells that we have in our bodies or Venter's genetically-modified E. coli.
A team of biologists and chemists is closing in on bringing non-living matter to life.
"What we're looking at is the origin of life in one aspect, and the other aspect is life as a small nanomachine on a single cell level," said Hans Ziock, a protocellular researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Life's function, as a simple nanomachine, is just to use energy to marshal chemicals into making more copies of itself.
"You need to organize yourself in a specific way to be useful," Ziock said. "You take energy from one place and move it to a place where it usually doesn't want to go, so you can actually organize things."
Highly Wired - New Brain Study Finds More Synapses In Men Than In Women, Science News
An investigation of brain tissue recovered from epilepsy patients during surgery showed men had a higher density of brain cell connectors, called synapses, than their female counterparts, (...).
This image shows a brain cell as it responds to an electrical stimulus. The blue traces the path of the signal and its transmission through synapses to the brain cell.
Credit: Michael A. Colicos, University of Calgary
The find might explain why men have better spatial perception, while women better remember what they hear and can talk faster, the researchers suggest.
"Or, it could mean men's brains are just more redundant," (...).
Inborn Path To Math - Mathematics Ability May Be Related To An Evolutionarily Ingrained Sense For Numbers, Science News
A portion of 14-year-olds deftly estimate approximate quantities of items without counting, whereas others do so with either moderate or limited success, a new study finds. The ability is evolutionarily ancient and cannot be taught, but tends to get better with age. Large variations in this number sense closely parallel youngsters' mathematics achievement scores from kindergarten to sixth grade,(...).
In a new study, 14-year-olds had a fraction of a second to identify the more numerous of two sets of colored dots, such as those in the images shown here. Teens who performed this task especially well had also achieved high scores on standardized math tests throughout grade school.
"Our results suggest that there is a strong and significant relationship between the acuity of a student's approximate number system and his or her performance in school mathematics," (...).
Psychology: Investigating The Psychopathic Mind, Science
Excerpts: At age 38, Kiehl is embarking on a project he hopes will unravel the neural basis of psychopathy, a suite of personality and behavioral traits that is far more common in violent criminals than in the general population and is a strong predictor of repeat offenses. Given the crime and other societal costs caused by psychopathic individuals, Kiehl says, this group has been woefully understudied. He intends to change that. With a custom-built mobile magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner--roughly $2.3 million of equipment packed into a 15-meter-long trailer--and permission from the New Mexico governor to work in all 12 state prisons, Kiehl aims to scan 1000 inmates a year.
Neuroscience: Hippocampal Firing Patterns Linked To Memory Recall, Science
Excerpts: The hippocampus, tucked deep inside the temporal lobes of the brain, has been intensely studied for its role in recording memories. Now two studies--one with rats and one with people undergoing surgery for intractable epilepsy--suggest that patterns of neuron firing in the hippocampus are also involved in recalling past experiences.
"The two papers are significant because they point directly to reactivation of neural activity sequences as a mechanism for memory recall," (...). Such a mechanism may underlie several functions attributed to the hippocampus, Moser says, including navigation, memory, and planning future actions.
Internally Generated Cell Assembly Sequences in the Rat Hippocampus, Science
Excerpts: long-standing conjecture in neuroscience is that aspects of cognition depend on the brain's ability to self-generate sequential neuronal activity. We found that reliably and continually changing cell assemblies in the rat hippocampus appeared not only during spatial navigation but also in the absence of changing environmental or body-derived inputs. During the delay period of a memory task, each moment in time was characterized by the activity of a particular assembly of neurons. Identical initial conditions triggered a similar assembly sequence, whereas different conditions gave rise to different sequences, thereby predicting behavioral choices, including errors. Such sequences were not formed in control (nonmemory) tasks. We hypothesize that neuronal representations, evolved for encoding distance in spatial navigation, also support episodic recall and the planning of action sequences.
Gene Regulation Makes The Human, Science News
Genes alone don't make the man - after all, humans and chimps share roughly 98 percent of their DNA. But where, when and how much genes are turned on may be essential in setting people apart from other primates.
A human version of a stretch of DNA, when inserted into a mouse embryo, cranks up the activity of genes in the developing thumb (shown blue). But this activity was much lower with the chimp or rhesus macaque version of the same DNA sequence. The difference could point to the kinds of developmental changes that make us human.
A stretch of human DNA inserted into mice embryos revs the activity of genes in the developing thumb, toe, forelimb and hind limb. But the chimp and rhesus macaque version of this same stretch of DNA spurs only faint activity in the developing limbs (...).
Cancer Genetics: A Detailed Genetic Portrait Of The Deadliest Human Cancers, Science
Excerpts: Three studies published this week, two of which are being published online by Science, have given researchers their most detailed look so far at the genetic mutations that underlie the deadliest of human cancers: pancreatic cancer and the brain tumor glioblastoma.
(...) report finding hundreds of genes that were mutated in these two cancers. There were an average of 63 altered genes in each pancreatic tumor and 60 per glioblastoma. The mutations varied from tumor to tumor, but the most important tended to fall in the same cell pathways. For example, 12 specific pathways were disrupted in at least 70% of pancreatic tumors. "It points to a new way of looking at cancer," says Vogelstein, who suggests that treatments should target these pathways, not the products of single genes.
Multimodal Warning Signals For A Multiple Predator World, Nature
Excerpts: During spring, when birds are active and bats less so, we found that tiger moths did not produce ultrasonic clicks. Throughout both spring and summer, tiger moths most active during the day were visually conspicuous. Those species emerging later in the season produced ultrasonic clicks; those that were most nocturnal were visually cryptic. Our results indicate that selective pressures from multiple predator classes have distinct roles in the evolution of multimodal warning displays now effective against a single predator class.
Getting wise to the dangers of camouflaged predators, however, has a cost for the bees, (...). Predator-savvy bees get jumpy, slowing down on the nectar-collection job, (...).
A new bee-testing device mimics a close call with a dangerous camouflaged spider. A bee that ignores the yellow-on-yellow spider shape and buzzes close to sip a sugar droplet gets a remotely triggered squeeze from electronic sponges (clockwise starting at top left).
And in the end, some of the bumblebees get a little paranoid, increasingly shying away from safe flowers. "They're behaving as if they're starting to see ghosts," Chittka says.
Chemical Oscillations Of Air-Seeded Bubbles In Water Driven By Ultrasound, Physical Review
Excerpts: Chemical oscillations are shown to be responsible for very low frequency modulations of a bubble oscillating nonlinearly in a high intensity ultrasound held. In the parameter space of incomplete dissociation near the onset of sonoluminescence a small bubble is shown to grow on a long time scale by the intake of dissolved air.
Bubble collapses get hotter and more dense, noninert gases are dissociated and removed, and a small growing argon bubble is left behind continuing the circle.
Geochemistry and the Biosphere / Essays by Vladimir I. Vernadsky, Book Review, Ralph Abraham
Excerpts: The Essays on Geochemistry, regarding the chemical elements in the Earth's crust, is a technical work outside my bailiwick -- and there is an excellent review (...) -- so I will confine my review to The Biosphere.
The Biosphere has three parts:
1. The biosphere in the cosmos (82 pages),
2. The domain of life (96 pages), and
3. A few words about the noosphere (13 pages).
The first two parts are divided into sections numbered consecutively from 1 to 160: the first part has sections 1 to 67, and the second part, sections 68 to 160. The third part
has 13 sections, numbered 1 to 13. I proceed now in this section to give a little flavor of
the content of the first two parts.
Complex Challenges: Terrorist Networks
Global Poll Shows Doubt About al-Qaida Role in 9/11 Attacks, Voice of America
Seven years after terrorist attacks killed several thousand people in the United States, a new global public opinion poll shows that many people do not believe the attacks were the work of the al-Qaida terror network. (...)
World Trade Center attacks 11 Sept 2001 (file).
An independent U.S.-based group called World Public Opinion.org asked 16,000 people in 17 countries who they thought was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
White House: Politics Not A Factor In Bin Laden Hunt, AFP
Excerpts: The rivals to succeed Bush -- fellow Republican John McCain and Democratic foe Barack Obama -- have been warring over which of them would more likely finally succeed in reaching the elusive Al-Qaeda terrorist network chief.
And a recent wave of media reports alleging US raids or missile strikes in a remote area of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan -- the area thought to be bin Laden's sanctuary -- has fueled speculation of a ramped-up campaign.
"The 2008 election doesn't play any role in the president's trying to track down and find Osama bin Laden and his top deputies," said Perino.
Links and Snippets
- Shadow Enhancers as a Source of Evolutionary Novelty, Joung-Woo Hong, David A. Hendrix, Michael S. Levine, 08/09/05, Science : 1314.
Some developmentally important genes can be regulated via two enhancers, one located nearby and the other, a "shadow" enhancer, 10 to 20 kilobases away.
- Microbiology: How To Infect A Mimivirus, Hiroyuki Ogata, Jean-Michel Claverie, 08/09/05, Science : 1305-1306.
Summary: Large DNA viruses such as the giant Mimivirus can be infected by smaller viruses.
- Ants Under Crowded Conditions Consume More Energy, T. T. Cao, A. Dornhaus, 2008/09/02, Biological Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0381
- Nuclear And Mitochondrial Sequences Confirm Complex Colonization Patterns And Clear Species Boundaries For Flightless Weevils In The Galápagos Archipelago, A. S. Sequeira, M. Sijapati, A. A. Lanteri, L. R. Albelo, 2008/09/02, Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0109
- Hallucinations In The Flash Of An Eye, 2008/09/04, Innovations-report
- New Nano Device Detects Immune System Cell Signaling, 2008/09/04, Innovations-report
- Complex Ocean Behavior Studied With 'Artificial Upwelling', 2008/09/04, ScienceDaily & Oregon State University
- Eyeball Reflexes: Security and Biometrics That Cannot Be Spoofed, 2008/09/04, ScienceDaily & Inderscience Publishers
- Molecular Evolution Is Echoed In Bat Ears, 2008/09/04, ScienceDaily & University of Bristol
- Can Science Improve Man's Best Friend?, 2008/09/08, ScienceDaily & Monash University
- Complex Dynamics In Multistable Systems, U. Feudel - u.feudelicbm.de, Jun. 2008, International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos
- Alfvén Complexity, E. L. Rempel, A. C. -L. Chian, D. Koga, R. A. Miranda, W. M. Santana, Jun. 2008, International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos, DOI: 10.1142/S0218127408021282
- Multistable Chaotic Dynamical Systems And Philosophy, V. Aboites, Jun. 2008, International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos, DOI: 10.1142/S0218127408021397