Daily Archives: October 1, 2010

The car of the future is here

The Jaguar C-X75 (not to be confused with te Siemens CX75 cell phone) will go almost 70 miles on its battery pack, using one 145kW electric motor attached to each wheel, accelerate faster than most hot cars, and reach top speeds that are greater than most fast cars. You can plug it into you wall and thus fuel it off of your local coal burning plant or nuke (yes, folks, plug-in electric cars are terribly inefficient because the electricity is made miles away from where it is used) or, for more efficiency than most (or perhaps any?) hybrid, the car has two internal microturbine engines that will run on a wide range of fuel including biodiesel, compressed natural gas, etc., to charge the batteries, extending the range of the vehicle to about 560 miles. The turbines can also directly power the wheels directly if needed.

The seats are fixed, but the controls move. That’s interesting. Makes me wonder if we’ve been doing it wrong all these years….


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Aerosteon riocoloradensis: A Very Cool Dinosaur from Argentina

Fossils of a newly discovered species of dinosaur — a 10-meter-long, elephant-weight predator — were discovered in 1996 along the banks of Argentina’s Rio Colorado, and are now being reported after a long period of careful study. This dinosaur dates to about 85 million years (which falls within the Cretaceous period).

~ A repost, because it is still an amazing dinosaur ~

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Aerosteon riocoloradensis is that it demonstrates the evolution of a bird-like respiratory system in an animal that is definitely not bird-like in most other ways. Indeed, the authors of this paper imply that this dinosaur’s respiratory system represents an early phase in the evolution of the bird’s respiratory system. This is a case of an adaptation arising in one context and later being used in an entirely different context.

This is how evolution often works: An adaptation arises for one reason, and then that adaptation is employed in a similar way but for a very different purpose (it is “exapted” as Stephen Gould would say) in a later organism. In this case, we see a lung adapted for a certain kind of efficiency in a terrestrial organism. Later, if the authors are correct, this same efficiency-enhancing adaptation is used in birds as an adaptation related to flight, an entirely different reason.

This diagram shows a reconstruction of the dinosaur Aerosteon riocoloradensis in outline, with the features identified as related to the pneumatic (breathing-related) adaptations indicated. You can access the original paper on line if you wish to study these features in more detail. Suffice it to say that there are a lot of pneumatic features of interest!

In order to understand the significance of this find, it may be helpful to first discuss some interesting things about tetrapod lungs, and bird lungs in particular.

Continue reading Aerosteon riocoloradensis: A Very Cool Dinosaur from Argentina

American’s knowledge about creationism and evolution …

By now you’ve heard of the Pew research poll testing American’s knowledge of religion. You may not have learned about the poll’s evolution and creationism questions, as they’ve gotten much less press. In the poll…

[r]espondents were asked, “Which of these people developed the theory of evolution by natural selection?” and offered the choice of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Clarence Darrow. Seventy-one percent of respondents selected the correct answer of Darwin, 6% selected Freud, 3% selected Darrow, and 20% said that they didn’t know. (In a 2009 survey conducted by the British Council, 84% of American respondents said that they had heard of Darwin.)

Respondents were also asked, “And which of these court trials focused on whether evolution could be taught in public schools?” and offered the choice of the Scopes trial, the Salem witch trials, and Brown vs. Board of Education. Only 31% of respondents selected the correct answer of the Scopes trial, 36% selected Brown vs. Board of Education, 3% selected the Salem witch trials, and 30% said that they didn’t know.



Judge Asks Vatican to Serve Pope

A federal U.S. judge is asking the Vatican to cooperate in serving the Pope and two other top officials with court papers that stem from decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in Wisconsin.

The request is an incremental – and long shot – step in a lawsuit that accuses the officials of conspiring to keep the allegations against a Milwaukee priest quiet. The Vatican is not obliged to comply with the request.


Making the window controls go back where they belong in Ubuntu

In the latest version of Ubuntu, the development community decided that they needed to look more like a Mac, so they randomly decided to move the window controls (to close, maximize, minimize etc.) a window, to the left (incorrect) side of the window rather than the right (correct) side of the window.

In order to fix this “feature” here’s what you do.

Run gconf-editor (enter that phrase into a terminal). Find apps, then metacity, then general, then within that find “button_layout”. Double click on that.

It will say “close,minimize,maximize:menu”

Change that to “menu:minimize,maximize,close” and click OK. Instantly, you will be fixed.

The Curious World of Bugs

The old man crouched slightly as he took small tiny steps forward towards the woman’s ass. I didn’t see what was in is raised right hand, it was hidden from my view by his body draped with a colorful sarong. He crept closer, still crouched and still silent. She didn’t see him coming, but when he finally struck the woman hardly seemed to notice. His hand, it turn out, bore what looked like a hand broom of the type used to sweep the dirt floors of the mud huts and open barazas, but smaller, cleaner, and cut somewhat differently. He used it to strike a fly off her bottom and when the surprised insect hit the ground his foot sprung out as fast as a welterweight boxer’s fist mushed it to death.
Continue reading The Curious World of Bugs