Daily Archives: April 10, 2008

Above-Average Hurricane Season Predicted


A noted hurricane researcher predicted Wednesday that rising water temperatures in the Atlantic will bring a “well above average” storm season this year, including four major storms.The updated forecast by William Gray’s team at Colorado State University calls for 15 named storms in the Atlantic in 2008 and says there’s a better than average chance that at least one major hurricane will hit the United States.An average of 5.9 hurricanes form in the Atlantic each year.”The Atlantic is a bit warmer than in the past couple of years,” said Phil Klotzbach, a member of the forecast team. “That is something we would like to keep an eye on.”[source]

Nature News


Deep-sea sharks wired for sound from PhysOrg.com
Deep-sea sharks have been tagged and tracked and their habitats precisely mapped in world-first research to test the conservation value of areas closed to commercial fishing.


Shorebird numbers crash: survey alarm from PhysOrg.com
One of the world’s great wildlife spectacles is under way across Australia: as many as two million migratory shorebirds of 36 species are gathering around Broome before an amazing 10,000-kilometre annual flight to their northern hemisphere breeding grounds.


A serious case of poaching of one of Europe’s most threatened bird species has been confirmed in Greece. An adult male Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus was found dead at Lake Kerkini – a protected area in Greece where hunting is strictly prohibited. An autopsy confirmed that the bird was killed with a shotgun. The species is protected under the EU Birds Directive, and by national legislation within Greece.The bird – known as Mánnu – had previously been individually colour-marked by scientists close to its breeding area in northern Norway. The main part of the Fennoscandian population winters in Greece, in the protected areas at Lake Kerkini and in the Evros Delta.Loss of one adult male represents about 5% of all Fennoscandian breeding males. “This is dramatic, because loss of adult reproductive birds has a significant negative impact on the recruitment of the small population”, says Dr Ingar Jostein Oien (BirdLife Norway).More details from Birdlife International.

Christopher deCharms: Looking inside the brain in real time

Neuroscientist and inventor Christopher deCharms demos an amazing new way to use fMRI to show brain activity while it is happening — emotion, body movement, pain. (In other words, you can literally see how you feel.) The applications for real-time fMRIs start with chronic pain control and range into the realm of science fiction, but this technology is very real.

Continue reading Christopher deCharms: Looking inside the brain in real time

Rube Goldberg Contest: Make a hamburger

i-f7cb9c3c08cdc7544d7e33734be6a5d6-rube.jpgRube Goldberg is the inventor of the Mouse Trap … the better mouse trap that is…He was actually a cartoonist who made famous the Rube Goldberg machines, which were increcibly complicated, intricate devices to do something simple in as many unlikely steps as possible. The board game “mouse trap” is based on this concept. I have a vague memory or Rube Goldberg being featured on a PBS TV show called “The Great American Dream Machine” … must have been some time before his death in late 1970. Anybody remember that?Anyway, there is an annual compeition for the Rube Goldberg Prize that has just been completed, and won, as it usually is, by the the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers. This is the third time if four years that Purdue has won this contest, beating out Texas A&M and The University at Buffalo, earning second and third place respectively.The task at hand this years was to assemble a hamburger with at least one precooked patty, two veggies, and two condiments. Continue reading Rube Goldberg Contest: Make a hamburger

Mark Shuttleworth: Playing Nicely with Windows

Shuttleworth is the man behind Ubuntu. He has written an essay on his blog (Here be Dragons) on playing nice with windows.

Windows is a very important platform, and our justifiable pride in Linux and the GNU stack shouldn’t blind us to the importance of delivering software that is widely useful. I believe in bringing free software to people in a way that is exciting and empowering to them, and one of the key ways to do that is to show them amazing free software running on their familiar platform, whether that’s Windows or the MacOS.

Read the rest here.

Health News

Methamphetamine use in pregnancy changes learning ability of the offspring from PhysOrg.com
Studies have suggested that infants exposed to methamphetamines while in the womb can suffer irreversible brain damage, although the exact effects of these drugs during pregnancy have been hard to pinpoint due to many other negative behaviors that often occur in meth users.


How fast you’ll age is written in the bones, research finds from PhysOrg.com
Perhaps the aging process can’t be stopped. But it can be predicted, and new research from Tel Aviv University indicates that people may live longer and lead healthier lives as a result.

Continue reading Health News

Good Bye Paul Douglas

i-0ae70547a45a0d7747840c44d387f66b-paul.jpgThe story goes like this: Paul Douglas was a back-room meteorologist for a local Twin Cities news show. He was one of the guys in the back that actually predicted the weather, which was then delivered by the pretty boy/girl weathermen/women on camera. One day the main weatherman was out of town, and the other weatherman was sick (details of the story vary), and nobody realized that they had no one to report the weather until the very last second. So they threw Paul a jacket and tie and said “Get out there, boy, you’re the weatherman today.”…. Continue reading Good Bye Paul Douglas

Expelled Busted

Things are happening exactly as I predicted…(Expelled! The Movie To Be Pulled From Theaters Following Myers/Dawkins-Gate Screwup)The movie “Expelled!” with Ben Stein (you may have heard of it) includes a segment consisting of the animation of the inside workings of a cell. It is said to look a lot like a production that came out of Harvard and a private animation firm last year or so:People who saw the clip used in Expelled! were beginning to think that the video Expelled! used was not the Harvard video because there were some differences. However, this remains unclear. My thinking on this was that it was the original video but somehow filtered through a process that may have rendered it a little different. Sort of like copying and pasting some text from a copyrighted source, changing the type face and font size, and declaring that it was different.Well, the other shoe has dropped, the shit has hit the fan, the cows have come home to roost… Continue reading Expelled Busted

Microsoft Wants Yahoo

A letter from Steven Ballmer to Yahoo:

Dear Members of the Board:It has now been more than two months since we made our proposal to acquire Yahoo! at a 62% premium to its closing price on January 31, 2008, the day prior to our announcement. Our goal in making such a generous offer was to create the basis for a speedy and ultimately friendly transaction. Despite this, the pace of the last two months has been anything but speedy.While there has been some limited interaction between management of our two companies, there has been no meaningful negotiation to conclude an agreement. We understand that you have been meeting to consider and assess your alternatives, including alternative transactions with others in the industry, but we’ve seen no indication that you have authorized Yahoo! management to negotiate with Microsoft. This is despite the fact that our proposal is the only alternative put forward that offers your shareholders full and fair value for their shares, gives every shareholder a vote on the future of the company, and enhances choice for content creators, advertisers, and consumers.During these two months of inactivity, the Internet has continued to march on, while the public equity markets and overall economic conditions have weakened considerably, both in general and for other Internet-focused companies in particular. At the same time, public indicators suggest that Yahoo!’s search and page view shares have declined. Finally, you have adopted new plans at the company that have made any change of control more costly.By any fair measure, the large premium we offered in January is even more significant today. We believe that the majority of your shareholders share this assessment, even after reviewing your public disclosures relating to your future prospects.Given these developments, we believe now is the time for our respective companies to authorize teams to sit down and negotiate a definitive agreement on a combination of our companies that will deliver superior value to our respective shareholders, creating a more efficient and competitive company that will provide greater value and service to our customers. If we have not concluded an agreement within the next three weeks, we will be compelled to take our case directly to your shareholders, including the initiation of a proxy contest to elect an alternative slate of directors for the Yahoo! board. The substantial premium reflected in our initial proposal anticipated a friendly transaction with you. If we are forced to take an offer directly to your shareholders, that action will have an undesirable impact on the value of your company from our perspective which will be reflected in the terms of our proposal.It is unfortunate that by choosing not to enter into substantive negotiations with us, you have failed to give due consideration to a transaction that has tremendous benefits for Yahoo!’s shareholders and employees. We think it is critically important not to let this window of opportunity pass.Sincerely,Steven A. BallmerChief Executive OfficerMicrosoft Corp.