Archive for August, 2012

Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for stars!

Posted in Relaxing Corner on August 30, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for stars!

1. There are at least two people in this world
that you would die for.

2. At least 15 people in this world

love you in some way.


3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you

is because they want to

be just like you.


4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone,

even if they


like you.


5. Every night,

SOMEONE thinks about you

before they go to sleep.


6. You mean the world to someone.


7. You are special and unique.


8. Someone that you don’t even know exists loves you.


9. When you make the biggest mistake ever,

something good comes from it.


10. When you think the world

has turned its back on you

take another look.


11. Always remember the compliments you received..

Forget about the rude remarks.

Good friends are like stars……….

You don’t always see them,

But you know they are always there..


“Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though

Sometimes It’s Hell in the Hallway”


I would rather have one rose and a kind word

from a friend while I’m here

than a whole truck load when I’m gone..


Happiness keeps You Sweet,

Trials keep You Strong,

Sorrows keep You Human,

Failures keeps You Humble,

Success keeps You Glowing,

But Only

God keeps You Going

Source  – Ben Draper –

How ‘Tatooine’ Planets Orbit Twin Stars of Kepler-47 (Infographic)

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE on August 30, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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How ‘Tatooine’ Planets Orbit Twin Stars of Kepler-47 (Infographic)

by Karl Tate
Date: 28 August 2012 Time: 06:30 PM ET
For the first time, scientists studying data from the Kepler Space Telescope have found multiple planets orbiting a binary star.

The alien solar system Kepler-47 joins four previously discovered double-star systems that have only one planet each. Most of the stars in our galaxy that are like our sun are in binary star systems.
The inner planet of the Kepler-47 system, a world named Kepler-47b, has 3 times the diameter of Earth and orbits its twin suns in 49.5 Earth days. The outer planet, Kepler-47c, has 4.6 times Earth’s diameter and a year of 303.2 Earth days.

With binary stars at their center, the Kepler-47 planets have two suns like Tatooine, the fictional home world of Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” universe.

Kepler 47-c orbits within the habitable zone of its parent binary star. Its orbit is the largest yet found for a planet outside our solar system.

Astronomers have confirmed about 700 planets beyond our solar system as of early 2012, but the latest statistical analysis suggests that our galaxy likely harbors more than 100 billion alien worlds. One in six of the Milky Way’s 100 billion stars may have a Jupiter-size planet, while nearly two-thirds may host a world slightly larger than Earth.


The Most Extreme Stargazing Objects in the Night Sky

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE on August 30, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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The Most Extreme Stargazing Objects in the Night Sky

by Joe Rao, Skywatching Columnist
Date: 28 August 2012 Time: 09:30 AM ET
Extreme Night Sky Targets
The night sky is full of uncountable wonders, as any dedicated stargazer knows. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the most extreme night sky sights, from the brightest planet to the most distant object detectable with the naked eye.FIRST STOP: The Brightest Planet
Skywatcher Cory Poole sent this photo of Jupiter and Venus seen from Redding, CA, on July 5, 2012. Poole writes: “You can see Venus passing through the Hyades open star cluster with Jupiter and the Pleiades above that. The foreground was illuminated by a flashlight and the exposure time was 15 seconds.”
Credit: Cory Poole
The Brightest Planet

Earth’s hellishly hot “sister planet,” Venus, takes this title because of its highly reflective clouds and proximity to Earth. It’s about six times more luminous than the runners-up, Mars and Jupiter.Venus is brighter than pretty much any object in our sky apart from the sun and moon, shining at a maximum apparent magnitude of -5 or so. For comparison, the full moon blazes at magnitude -13, making it roughly 1,600 times brighter than Venus. (In astronomy, lower magnitudes signify brighter objects.) [Amazing Photos of Venus and the Moon]

The largest known star is probably VY Canis Majoris.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Humphreys (University of Minnesota)
The Largest Star

The largest known star is probably VY Canis Majoris, a red M-type star that lies about 3,800 light-years from Earth in the constellation Canis Major, The Big Dog.

Researchers estimate that VY Canis Majoris could be more than 2,100 times the size of the sun. If placed in our solar system, the monster star’s surface would thus extend out past the orbit of Saturn. But VY Canis Majoris may not even have a discernible surface, since the star appears to be about 1,000 times less dense than Earth’s atmosphere at sea level.

VY Canis Majoris is the source of considerable controversy, since the estimates of its size fall outside the bounds of current stellar theory. Astronomers think VY Canis Majoris will die in a “hypernova” explosion sometime within the next 100,000 years, producing a burst of energy substantially higher than that generated by typical supernovas.

Photograph of Sirius A, the brightest star in our nighttime sky, along with its faint, tiny stellar companion, Sirius B.
Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Bond (STScI), and M. Barstow (University of Leicester)
The Garnet Star (Erakis/Herschel’s Garnet Star/Mu Cephei) is a star in the Cepheus constellation.
Credit: Francesco Malafarina
The Brightest Star

In 1997, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope identified what may be the most luminous star known — a celestial mammoth 25,000 light-years away that releases up to 10 million times the energy of the sun and is big enough to fill the diameter of Earth’s orbit.

Researchers have suggested that this powerhouse star — found in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius — also created a surrounding cloud of glowing gas that has been dubbed the Pistol Nebula. As such, it’s called the “Pistol Star.”

Unfortunately, this amazing star is not visible to skywatchers here on Earth; it’s hidden behind the great dust clouds along the Milky Way. The brightest visible star is currently Sirius, the Dog Star, which is found in the constellation Canis Major. Sirius shines with an apparent magnitude of -1.44. [More on the Pistol Star]

The Most Colorful Star
Many stars are known for their beautiful colors, such as the double star Albireo (blue and orange) and Antares (fiery red). But the most colorful of all stars visible to the naked eye may be the reddish-orange Mu Cephei, which is sometimes known as Erakis.The red giant Mu Cephei — dubbed “The Garnet Star” by famed British astronomer William Herschel — resides in the constellation Cepheus (The King). Mu Cephei is a pulsating variable star and cycles from a maximum magnitude of 3.7 down to about 5.0 before brightening back up again.

And the star’s color can vary, too. Most of the time, Mu Cephei appears a deep orange-red, but on occasion it has seemed to take on a weird purplish tint. While The Garnet Star is slightly dim, its ruddy cast is apparent even to the unaided eye on a dark night, and it’s stunning in good binoculars.

Night sky watcher Johannes Gligoris photographed this amazing panorama of a starry night over Innsbruck, Austria on August 3, 2012. Andromeda and NGC 884/869 are clearly visible. His full-size 1.14 gigapixel version can be viewed on the website.
Credit: Johannes Gligoris
Most Distant Naked-Eye Object
This superlative goes to the Andromeda galaxy, a collection of 400 billion stars that was spotted as early as the 10th century by Persian astronomer Al Sufi. He described it as a “little cloud.”Even through binoculars or backyard telescopes, Andromeda still looks like little more than an elongated fuzzy patch. But that’s still plenty impressive, considering that the galaxy is 2.5 million light-years from Earth.

But it’s getting closer. Astronomers estimate that Andromeda and our own Milky Way will merge about four billion years from now, bringing the once-distant galaxy into spectacular view for any skywatchers still around to look up. [Gallery: Andromeda’s Crash with Milky Way]

Space Sugar Discovered Around Sun-Like Star

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE on August 30, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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Space Sugar Discovered Around Sun-Like Star

by Staff
Date: 29 August 2012 Time: 06:01 AM ET
Molecules of simple sugar, known as glycolaldehyde, were found around a young, sun-like star.
This image shows the Rho Ophiuchi star-forming region in infrared light, as seen by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE). IRAS 16293-2422 is the red object in the center of the small square. The inset image is an artist’s impression of glycolaldehyde molecules, showing glycolaldehyde’s molecular structure.
CREDIT: ESO/L. Calçada & NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

What a sweet cosmic find! Sugar molecules have been found in the gas surrounding a young sun-like star, suggesting that some of the building blocks of life may actually be present even as alien planets are still forming in the system.

The young star, called IRAS 16293-2422, is part of a binary (or two-star) system. It has a similar mass to the sun and is located about 400 light-years away in the constellation of Ophiuchus. The sugar molecules, known as glycolaldehyde, have previously been detected in interstellar space, but according to the researchers, this is the first time they have been spotted so close to a sun-like star.

In fact, the molecules are about the same distance away from the star as the planet Uranus is from our sun.

In the disk of gas and dust surrounding this newly formed star, we found glycolaldehyde, which is a simple form of sugar, not much different to the sugar we put in coffee,” study lead author Jes Jørgensen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, said in a statement. “This molecule is one of the ingredients in the formation of RNA, which — like DNA, to which it is related — is one of the building blocks of life.”

Molecular structure of glycolaldehyde sugar molecules
This artist’s impression of glycolaldehyde molecules shows their molecular structure (C2H4O2). Carbon atoms are shown as gray, oxygen atoms as red, and hydrogen atoms as white.
CREDIT: ESO/L. Calçada

Glycolaldehyde can react with a substance called propenal to form ribose, which is a major component of RNA, or ribonucleic acid. RNA is similar to DNA, which is considered one of the primary molecules in the origin of life.

Astronomers found the sugar molecules using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile. Using ALMA, the astronomers monitored the sugar molecules and found that they are falling toward one of the stars in the binary system, explained study researcher Cécile Favre, of Aarhus University in Denmark. [7 Theories on the Origin of Life]

“The sugar molecules are not only in the right place to find their way onto a planet, but they are also going in the right direction,” Favre said in a statement.

When new stars are formed, the clouds of dust and gas from which they are born are extremely cold. Much of the gas turns into ice on the dust particles, bonding together and becoming complex molecules, the researchers said.

As the newborn star develops, it heats up the inner parts of the rotating cloud of gas and dust, warming it to about room temperature, the scientists explained. This heating process evaporates the chemically complex molecules and forms gases that emit radiation that can be picked up by sensitive radio telescopes.

“A big question is: how complex can these molecules become before they are incorporated into new planets?” Jørgensen said. “This could tell us something about how life might arise elsewhere, and ALMA observations are going to be vital to unravel this mystery.”

Since IRAS 16293-2422 is located relatively close to Earth, scientists will be able to study the molecular and chemical makeup of the gas and dust around the young star. Powerful instruments, including ALMA, will also help researchers see the interactions of these molecules as new alien planets form.

The detailed results of the study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Science as Art: Edward Lear’s Zoological Illustrations

Posted in THE ART on August 30, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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Science as Art: Edward Lear’s Zoological Illustrations

Wynne Parry, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 28 August 2012 Time: 07:02 AM ET
Culmenated Toucan

Culmenated Toucan

Credit: © The Royal SocietyCulmenated Toucan (Raphastos culmenatus) from John Gould FRS, A Monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or Family of Toucans (London, 1834)

Purple Heron

Purple Heron

Credit: © The Royal SocietyPurple Heron (Ardea purpurea) from John Gould FRS, The Birds of Europe (London, 1832–7), vol. 4

Quebec Marmot

Quebec Marmot

Credit: © The Royal SocietyQuebec Marmot (Arctomys empetra) from Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall, ed. John Edward Gray FRS (Knowsley, 1846)

Eagle Owl

Eagle Owl

Credit: © The Royal SocietyEagle Owl (Bubo maximus) from John Gould FRS, The Birds of Europe (London, 1832–7), vol. 1

Drawing for Scientists

Drawing for Scientists

Credit: © The Royal SocietyThe 19th century artist and author Edward Lear was best known for his nonsense poetry, including the children’s classic, The Owl and The Pussycat. However, Lear got his start drawing detailed illustrations of animals for scientists. In honor of the bicentennial of Lear’s birth in 1812, The Royal Society in London is hosting an exhibition of his work, drawn mainly from its library. The exhibition’s centrepiece is a folio containing Lear’s zoological illustrations, which records show Charles Darwin checked out of the library. Above, one of Lear’s toucan illustrations.

Malayan Giant Squirrel

Malayan Giant Squirrel

Credit: © The Royal SocietyMalayan Giant Squirrel (Sciurus javensis) from Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall, ed. John Edward Gray FRS (Knowsley, 1846)

Ancient Molluscs

Ancient Molluscs

Credit: 1Ammonites, plate 37.jpg © The Royal Society 1Colaptes collaris.jpg © The Royal SocietyAmmonites, from William Buckland FRS, Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology (London, 1836), plate 40

Green-Winged Teal Duck

Green-Winged Teal Duck

Credit: © The Royal SocietyGreen-winged Teal duck (Anas carolinensis) from The Zoology of Captain Beechey’s Voyage (London, 1839)

Spiny Turtle

Spiny Turtle

Credit: © The Royal SocietySpiny Turtle (formerly Emys spinosa) from Thomas Bell FRS, A Monograph of the Testudinata (London, 1832–6)

Eastern Grey Horned Owl

Eastern Grey Horned Owl

Credit: © The Royal SocietyEastern Great Horned Owl (Bubo ascalaphus) from John Gould FRS, The Birds of Europe (London, 1832–7), vol. 1

Ancient Animal Figurines Found in Israel


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Ancient Animal Figurines Found in Israel

by LiveScience Staff
Date: 29 August 2012 Time: 01:04 PM ET
This limestone figurine of a ram, found in Israel, is about 9,500 years old.
CREDIT: Yael Yolovitch, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Archaeologists have uncovered two 9,500-year-old cultic figurines in excavations just outside of Jerusalem, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) reported today (Aug. 29).

Found at the Tel Moza site, one of the Neolithic figures is a limestone ram with precisely carved spiral horns. The other is a more abstract sculpture of a wild bovine fashioned from dolomite, according to the IAA. Both are about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long.

Archaeologists believe these objects might have had cultic importance for the people who created them. The animal figurines were found near the remains of an ancient round building, dating back to a dynamic time in the region’s history when humans were transitioning from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one of farming and settling in villages.

“It is known that hunting was the major activity in this period,” Hamoudi Khalaily, co-excavator of the site for the IAA, said in a statement. “Presumably, the figurines served as good-luck statues for ensuring the success of the hunt and might have been the focus of a traditional ceremony the hunters performed before going out into the field to pursue their prey.” However, archaeologist and excavator Anna Eirikh thinks the artifacts may have been associated with the process of animal domestication.

Excavations at Tel Moza are taking place ahead of the expansion of Highway 1, the main road connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The Mantle Site: Photos of Ancient City


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The Mantle Site: Photos of Ancient City

Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor
Human pipe effigy

Human pipe effigy

Credit: Owen JarusA human pipe effigy, it appears to offer a tantalizing glimpse at the faces of the people of the site. At the Mantle site archaeologists have discovered 200,000 artifacts, LiveScience takes a look at a selection of them in this photo gallery.

Another human face

Another human face

Credit: Owen JarusThis selection also offers a tantalizing glimpse at the faces of the people of the site.

Close up of a human face

Close up of a human face

Credit: Photo courtesy Archaeological Services Inc.This selection also offers a tantalizing glimpse at the faces of the people of the site.

An effigy face

An effigy face

Credit: Owen JarusAn effigy face imprinted in pottery. This practice is associated with the Iroqouis of New York state, its presence at Mantle suggests that the inhabitants had extensive contact with them.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail

Credit: Owen JarusThis pipe effigy shows a tattooed man. Despite its small size the artist paid careful attention to detail.

Facial tattoos

Facial tattoos

Credit: Owen JarusThe tattooed man’s face.

Woodpecker pipe

Woodpecker pipe

Credit: Archaeological Services Inc. A woodpecker pipe effigy, about 5 cm across. When you smoke the pipe do you become the woodpecker? That’s one idea behind artifacts like this.

Owl artifact

Owl artifact

Credit: Owen JarusAn owl effigy that would have been part of a pipe. The people of Mantle, and indeed all First Nations, held these effigies in high regard. When a pipe broke care was taken to maintain the effigy until it could be carefully deposited.

Pottery artifact

Pottery artifact

Credit: Owen JarusA complete pot, with line decoration, discovered on site.

Mysterious artifact

Mysterious artifact

Credit: Owen JarusHeld together by an unknown substance, this tiny artifact has archaeologists puzzled as to its use and the meaning of the notching.

Antler comb

Antler comb

Credit: Owne JarusAn antler comb found at the Mantle site.

Stone axe

Stone axe

Credit: Owen JarusA stone axe, made of chloride schist. The people of Mantle would have cleared the land using axes like these.

Ceramic coronet

Ceramic coronet

Credit: Owen JarusA ceramic coronet pipe with metal insert found on site.

Mantle site

Mantle site

Credit: Photo courtesy Archaeological Services Inc. The black pigments used to decorate these sherds are a type of bone black pigment which has a high calcium content (~10-12% for both sherds).

Bustling Mantle

Bustling Mantle

Credit: Owen JarusA model of a longhouse at the Royal Ontario Museum. The Mantle site has 98 of them. Built of wood, a material that does not preserve well archaeologically, the houses at Mantle were between 80 to 100 feet long and were as wide as they were tall. At Mantle two of the longhouses are substantially larger than 100 feet and would likely have been used for public ceremonies.

Cosmopolitan Village

Cosmopolitan Village

Credit: Owen JarusThe inside of the longhouse, goods were kept and fires made. An extended family would have lived in them. When a man married a woman he moved in with her family.

The 10 Most Outrageous Military Experiments

Posted in MILITARY CORNER on August 30, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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The 10 Most Outrageous Military Experiments

Jeremy Hsu, LiveScience Senior Writer
Super soldiers

A super soldier program produces Marvel superhero Wolverine in the movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” along with rivals Sabretooth and Weapon XI. Now LiveScience looks back on real experiments that the U.S. government ran on soldiers and citizens to advance the science of war.The military didn’t replicate Wolverine’s indestructible skeleton and retractable claws. Rather, they shot accident victims up with plutonium, tested nerve gas on sailors, and tried out ESP. While some of the tests seem outlandish in hindsight, the military continues to push the envelope in seeking new warfare techniques based on cutting-edge science and technology.

“My measure of success is that the International Olympic Committee bans everything we do,” said Michael Goldblatt, former head of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, while talking with reporters. And that’s not a Hollywood script.

Build your inner armor
Perhaps super soldiers may not be far off after all, if efforts such as DARPA’s “Inner Armor” project find success. Consider efforts to give humans the extreme abilities of some animals, such as the high-altitude conditioning of the bar-headed Goose that has been known to crash into jet aircraft at more than 34,000 feet. Scientists are also eying the Steller sea lion, which redirects blood flow away from non-critical organs during deep sea dives and reduces oxygen demand. “I do not accept that our soldiers cannot physically outperform the enemy on his home turf,” said Dr. Michael Callahan, who heads the project at DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, during a 2007 presentation. The goal is to make soldiers “kill-proof” against all sorts of conditions, including infectious diseases, chemical, biological and radioactive weapons, temperature and altitude extremes, and harsh natural environments. Sounds like a certain mutant superhero.
24/7 Warrior
Sleep can be a warrior’s worst enemy, whether during day-long battles or long-duration missions flown from halfway around the world. But various military branches have tried to change that over the years by distributing “go pills” or stimulants such as amphetamines. More recently, the military has tested and deployed the drug modafinil – more commonly known under brands such as Provigil – which has supposedly enabled soldiers to stay awake for 40 hours straight without ill effect. And the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding even more unusual anti-sleep research, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation that zaps the brain with electromagnetism.
Psychic vision
Psychics may not hold much credibility among scientists, but the Pentagon spent roughly $20 million testing extrasensory (ESP) powers such as remote viewing from 1972 to 1996. Remote viewers would try to envision geographical locations that they had never seen before, such as nuclear facilities or bunkers in foreign lands. Mixed results led to conflicts within the intelligence agencies, even as the project continued under names such as “Grill Flame” and “Star Gate,” and led to spooks finally abandoning the effort. The CIA declassified such information in files released in 2002.
Nerve gas spray
Threats of chemical and biological warfare led the U.S. Department of Defense to start “Project 112″ from 1963 to the early 1970s. Part of the effort involved spraying different ships and hundreds of Navy sailors with nerve agents such as sarin and VX, in order to test the effectiveness of decontamination procedures and safety measures at the time. The Pentagon revealed the details of the Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) project in 2002, and the Veterans Administration began studying possible health effects among sailors who participated in SHAD. This was just one of many chemical warfare experiments conducted by the U.S. military, starting with volunteer tests involving mustard gas in World War II.
Hallucinogenic Warfare
Psychoactive drugs such as marijuana, LSD and PCP don’t just have street value: Researchers once hoped the drugs could become chemical weapons that disabled enemy soldiers. U.S. Army volunteers took pot, acid and angel dust at a facility in Edgewood, Md. From 1955 to 1972, although those drugs proved too mellow for weapons use. The Army did eventually develop hallucinogenic artillery rounds that could disperse powdered quinuclidinyl benzilate, which left many test subjects in a sleep-like condition for days. The National Academy of Sciences conducted a study in 1981 that found no ill effects from the testing, and Dr. James Ketchum published the first insider account of the research in his 2007 book “Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten.”
Falling near the speed of sound
When the U.S. Air Force wanted to find out how well pilots could survive high-altitude jumps, they turned to Captain Joseph Kittinger, Jr. The test pilot made several jumps as head of “Project Excelsior” during the 1950s. Each time involved riding high-altitude Excelsior balloons up tens of thousands of feet, before jumping, free falling and parachuting to the desert floor in New Mexico. Kittinger’s third record-breaking flight on August 16, 1960 took him up to 102,800 feet, or almost 20 miles. He then leaped and freefell at speeds of up to 614 mph, not far from the speed of sound’s 761 mph, and endured temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pacifist guinea pigs
Most soldiers don’t sign up to fight deadly viruses and bacteria, but that’s what more than 2,300 young Seventh-Day Adventists did when drafted by the U.S. Army. As conscientious objectors during the Cold War who interpreted the Bible’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill” very literally, many volunteered instead to serve as guinea pigs for testing vaccines against biological weapons. Volunteers recalled being miserable for several days with fever, chills and bone-deep aches from diseases such as Q fever. None died during the secretive “Operation Whitecoat,” which took place at Fort Detrick, Maryland from 1954 to 1973.
Rocket rider
Before man could launch into orbit and to the moon, he rode rocket sleds on the ground first. NASA scientists developed decompression sleds that could race at speeds of more than 400 mph before screeching to an abrupt halt, and early testing often had fatal results for chimpanzee subjects that suffered brain damage. Starting in 1954, Colonel John Stapp of the U.S. Air Force endured grueling tests that subjected his body to forces 35 times that of gravity, including one record-setting run of 632 miles per hour. As a flight surgeon, he voluntarily took on the risks of 29 sled runs, during which he suffered concussions, cracked ribs, a twice-fractured wrist, lost dental fillings, and burst blood vessels in both eyes.
Get your plutonium shot
As the United States raced to build its first atomic bombs near the end of World War II, scientists wanted to know more about the hazards of plutonium. Testing began on April 10, 1945 with the injection of plutonium into the victim of a car accident in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to see how quickly the human body rid itself of the radioactive substance. That was just the first of over 400 human radiation experiments. Common studies included seeing the biological effects of radiation with various doses, and testing experimental treatments for cancer. Records of this research became public in 1995, after the U.S. Department of Energy published them.
Seeing infrared
The U.S. Navy wanted to boost sailors’ night vision so they could spot infrared signal lights during World War II. However, infrared wavelengths are normally beyond the sensitivity of human eyes. Scientists knew vitamin A contained part of a specialized light-sensitive molecule in the eye’s receptors, and wondered if an alternate form of vitamin A could promote different light sensitivity in the eye. They fed volunteers supplements made from the livers of walleyed pikes, and the volunteers’ vision began changing over several months to extend into the infrared region. Such early success went down the drain after other researchers developed an electronic snooperscope to see infrared, and the human study was abandoned. Other nations also played with vitamin A during World War II – Japan fed its pilots a preparation that boosted vitamin A absorption, and saw their night vision improve by 100 percent in some cases.

10 Incredible Rumored Research Projects Going On At Google X

Posted in News on August 30, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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10 Incredible Rumored Research Projects Going On At Google X

What’s cooler than a top-secret, high-tech research facility? One that’s run by Google! Located in the Bay Area of Northern California (though only a select few know the exact location), Google X Labs has a purported list of 100 projects in development that delve into the realm of science fiction, the products of which may just change how we interact with our technology and each other in the coming decades. Here, we share a few of the formerly top-secret projects that Google X has unveiled in recent months, as well as some of the rumored research they’re doing on unbelievable ideas. All of them are sure to get you excited about what’s to come from this omnipresent tech company as they move from revolutionizing the search engine to revolutionizing, well, everything else.

  1. Augmented reality glasses.

    One of the biggest Google X projects to come to light in recent months is their “Project Glass,” perhaps better known as Google glasses in popular media. The company released the first demo of these glasses early in 2012, and some project that they will be on the market by the end of the year if product testing goes as planned (though that’s a bit ambitious as the design still has some major issues to work out). The glasses look about the same as a run-of-the-mill pair of eyeglasses, but instead of a lens, they’re outfitted with a small display screen. The end goal is to create a product that doesn’t require any interruption in everyday activities to use, allowing users to look up relevant information about their locations or day-to-day activities with little to no effort. If Google can pull it off, augmented reality glasses could replace smartphones as the next must-have gadget.

  2. Android Assistant.

    In an effort to match the features offered by Apple’s Siri, Google X has been hard at work developing its own assistant. The voice recognition and comprehension system, initially named Majel, is expected to launch at the end of 2012 in all new Android phones. In June of 2012, it was rumored that Google X was stepping up its work on the project and have hinted that it will do much more than simply mimic Siri, offering a much wider and more impressive range of interactive features. Research on the assistant could also be setting the stage for more in-depth AI projects in the future, as we’ll discuss later in this article.

  3. Web-connected light bulbs.

    Want to make it appear like you’re at home while you’re on vacation? You won’t need any annoying timers with the web-connected light bulbs being pioneered by Google X. This isn’t just wishful thinking, as Google reported in May of 2012 that they were already developing a device of this nature for the commercial market, which they plan to reveal by the end of the year. The light bulbs will be connected to Android phones, allowing those with them to remotely turn lights on or off. Similar systems are reported to be under development for other devices, including planters that can be remotely watered, making house sitters a thing of the past.

  4. Self-driving car.

    If the prospect of a driverless car is terrifying to you, not to worry; these Google X vehicles aren’t hanging out on every road just yet. In a project led by Sebastian Thrun himself, a renowned Google engineer, researchers developed a robotic vehicle which they called Stanley. Stanley and other Google X prototypes are modified versions of the Toyota Prius that have thus far logged more than 140,000 unmanned miles on California’s test tracks. A new law in Nevada making driverless cars legal has prompted the lab to take things one step further and they are developing the cars for commercial use. Still in the initial stages, this development could potentially make roads safer, allow more transportation options for the disabled, and open up a whole new realm of location-based advertising.

  5. Solve for X.

    Solve for X is a forum created by Google to bring together the top minds in the world to solve big problems and to develop life-changing, revolutionary technologies. It’s not technically part of Google X but in many ways seems to be very much wrapped up in the same research and ideals. Both projects are top secret (conferences for Solve for X are invite-only), both involve some of the best minds in the world, and both are focused on moonshot ideas, leading many to wonder just how much separation there really is between Google X’s labs and the Solve for X project. Some of the ideas being discussed by the forum, at least those that have leaked, are transformational educational technology, agricultural improvements, carbon-negative biofuels, and synthetic biology. All of these ideas could potentially already be under development at Google X, and those without Google insider status will just have to wait to see what comes of that research.

  6. Neural networks.

    In June 2012, Google revealed that it had built a nine-layer neural network that can learn to detect faces using unlabeled images. This impressive feat took 1,000 machines three days to do, but it paid off. The network not only learned to detect human faces but those of cats and other body parts as well. Even more impressive, it did this with accuracy ranging from 81.7% to 74.8%. While accuracy in the more than 20,000 object categories the researchers scanned for was just 15.8%, that’s still a 70% improvement over previous systems, making Google’s foray into machine learning a pretty powerful success. This experiment is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to machine learning and could mark some serious leaps forward in the coming years with all kinds of AI projects.

  7. The Web of Things.

    Sometimes called the Internet of Things (though Web is much less awkward), this Google X project is all about hooking up just about everything in your home to the Web. With all home appliances and electronics interfaced, the idea is that they’ll be able to anticipate your needs, remind you of chores, or even let you tweet the status of your dinner to your friends. You’ll also never have to worry if you left your coffee pot on again, as devices could easily be managed from a linked smartphone or other device. While perhaps one of Google X’s least well-kept secrets, the research could be making it to the market sooner than you think, with major partners like Broadcom and Texas Instruments collaborating to develop fully web-ready appliances and devices.

  8. Robotic avatars.

    It should come as no surprise that Google X is rumored to be the site of some serious robotic research, as Sergey Brin himself attended a course on the NASA campus as a robot. Miles away, Brin steered the Brinbot around the room, taking part in a range of discussions through video conferencing. Google X may be developing a wider range of robotic avatars, if rumors are to be believed. New robots developed through the research being done on site have been purported to do everything from taking Google maps photos to performing mundane office tasks to allow workers to perform their jobs remotely. It’s classic sci-fi, but with the work of Google it may become a reality sooner than later.

  9. Space elevator.

    One of the most talked-about projects that Google X is tackling is space travel, though not by traditional routes. Google is researching the potential of developing a space elevator, essentially an anchored cable that would allow goods and passengers to more easily, cheaply, and efficiently be shuttled into outer space. As far-fetched as it might be, Google may just be the company to finally revolutionize and popularize space travel, though some (Time Magazine‘s Jeffrey Kluger chief among them) don’t think Google’s plans will ever lead to any kind of viable space elevator. Whether it pans out or not, it is a bit exciting to consider the Google version of space travel, whatever that may mean.

  10. Artificial intelligence.

    The HAL-like AI system so many sci-fi novels warned us about may not be that far off, at least not if Google has anything to say about it. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have both said that they expect Google to eventually become a form of artificial intelligence, with the ultimate goal of making it AI-complete. While work on the rudimentary AI system used for Android Assistant isn’t especially under wraps, many suspect that Google is actually working on much more robust and revolutionary AI projects. This suspicion is probably pretty close to the truth, as a 2006 company memo stated that one of Google’s goals was to become the top AI research lab in the world, something Google X will undoubtedly play a role in over the next few decades. Even more telling, in 2011 a supposed former employee posted a message about some of the key AI research going on at Google X.

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The Worst Art Restoration Mistakes of All Time

Posted in THE ART on August 30, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

Post 1178

The Worst Art Restoration Mistakes of All Time

By Esther Inglis-Arkell

The Worst Art Restoration Mistakes of All TimeSo now we all know what not to do when restoring great works of art. Don’t go into a church in Spain and try to touch up a century-old fresco if all your attempts at art so far have ended with people asking you what you’re painting. But it turns out that even professionals can screw up horribly when it comes to art restoration.

Here’s how art restoration screwups can lead to impromptu nose-jobs, cracked paintings, or sand-blasted sculptures.

The Worst Art Restoration Mistakes of All TimeAn eighty-year-old woman in Spain took the art world by storm when she decided to restore her favorite piece of art using skills that only an art teacher looking to make a fortune off of lessons could love. The result was a Jesus that looked possibly like a monkey, possibly like a lion, but definitely like something that shouldn’t have been done on the wall of a church.

But just because someone’s paid to restore works of art doesn’t mean they can’t screw up — especially when seemingly minor mistakes can have major consequences. Let’s take a look at the many ways to ruin art restorations.

Cleaning It Up

When the Sistine Chapel underwent a cleaning in order to get centuries of dust and candle soot off its walls and ceiling, the move was railed against by many experts. Some argued that the painting should not be touched for any reason, and that the visible age was part of the art, but others were more concerned by the cleaning process.

A lot of damage is done when people don’t know when to stop. Some people shouldn’t even begin. The cool white of ancient Greek statues isn’t a reflection of the sensibilities of antiquity. It’s a reflection of the nineteenth century, when art curators found traces of the garish paint that used to cover them and blasted it away in order to make the statues look more beautiful to them. The 1800s also did a number on David. First he was covered in wax to put a nice white surface on him, and then the wax was removed with hydrochloric acid, along with the original patina of the statue.

The Worst Art Restoration Mistakes of All Time Remember that it’s hard to distinguish between dirt in the varnish, dirt on the paintings, and actual pigments put on the painting by the artist. And even if you do know it, there’s no way to be sure that whatever you pick to clean it will only get the dirt. Two different da Vinci paintings have been damaged by attempts to clean them. One painting at the Louvre got several shades lighter when and had the details washed out by extreme soft-focus. It was like the Virgin and Saint Anne, in the painting, wanted to airbrush out their wrinkles. A lost sketch by da Vinci of Orpheus being tormented by the Furies was destroyed when restorers dipped the sketch in alcohol and distilled water which took out the ink.

When Materials Science Goes Wrong

The Worst Art Restoration Mistakes of All Time One of the major problems with restoring art is the fact that the materials to do it just aren’t around anymore. Few companies crush lapis lazuli in the paint to make it blue, and there aren’t too many canvases woven at the full moon by blind virgins drunk on sacramental wine — or whatever they thought was appropriate to back religious paintings way back when. Once the materials are approximately re-created, they have to age the same way the rest of the painting does. When they don’t, things can go badly wrong.

A Caravaggio painting, lost for centuries, was nearly ruined by one of the people who who discovered it. The man was a skilled art restorer, but when a delay came and he couldn’t import from Italy a backing to the painting that approximated the canvases used in the 1600s, he got a high-quality local canvas. It shrunk, squeezing the paint and cracking it all over. The man had to peel off the just-applied canvas and order a new one.

Bad materials also claimed Egyptian sarcophagi. To be fair, oftentimes a sarcophagus is ruined already. Ruination generally happens when people bury a bunch of precious materials in a hole in the ground, and mark the treasure with an elaborate tomb. One sarcophagus was decorated with a face which had eyes made of alabaster. The precious material was pried off long before it was carted off to European museums in the 1800s. The museums didn’t have a lot of alabaster on hand either, and so decided to use a sloppy plaster job. The plaster yellowed over the years, giving the sarcophagus an evil look with yellow eye-whites. Later restorers had to pry the plaster eyes carefully out, and try again.

General Oopsery

In the end, there are as many ways to screw up a painting restoration as there are people trying to restore paintings. Every decision is another chance to ruin everything, or at least to have people claim you did. Even the Sistine Chapel restoration, which most people think is an excellent example of restoration, has its critics. Other restorers mention that certain details, or shadows, seem to have been lifted away, sometimes to the point of removing the pupils from the eyes of some of the figures. Since any details that were removed had to have been painted over the fresco, not with the fresco, this criticisms kicked off a big debate over which details Michelangelo painted versus what was painted by other artists or at the insistence of the reigning Pope.

Then there are the intentional screw-ups. A group of restorers managed to save almost all of a mural called The Tree of Fertility. They just left out the tree itself. And that tree happened to be filled with nothing but penises. The penis has had a tough time in art, historically, what with being knocked off statues, over-painted with clothes, and generally hidden from view, and that trend doesn’t seem to be abating.

The Worst Art Restoration Mistakes of All Time One of the best arguments against any restoration at all, to any painting, is the fact that one factual mistake made at the time of the restoration can totally wipe out centuries of art. All it takes is one moment for experts to make the wrong conclusion, and everything gets ruined. In the 1900s, art historians noticed that two Shakespeare portraits had been altered. One was given a new hairstyle. One was given a bald forehead. Both, they thought, were redone a century after his death and therefore were alterations of an authentic image. They even speculated the original sitter wasn’t Shakespeare, just a model to help the artist paint the great man. The over-paints were wiped away in a painstaking process revealing the true face of either Shakespeare or the anonymous sitter. A decade later, historical records showed that both paintings were of Shakespeare, and were actually altered during Shakespeare’s lifetime to reflect his changing appearance. The restorations had taken away insights into how Shakespeare really looked at otherwise unexamined periods of his life.

The Worst Art Restoration Mistakes of All Time And then there are the straight-up repaints. They might not all be as blatant as Simba Jesus, but sometimes restoring artists simply change a painting around. One painting, Supper at Emmaus, had critics up in arms because the restorer gave a woman a nose job. In the original painting by Veronese, shown in the paragraph above, a woman on the far right of the painting had a pronounced bump at the bridge of her nose and a knob at the end. The restorer smoothed out the bridge and gave her a downturned nose that masked the knob, as shown next to this paragraph. It took many successive attempts to recreate the face that the original painter created.

Admittedly, it takes an amateur to mess up to a certain extent. The pros, though, a no slouches. Maybe we should accept the grime? Or accept that art is more temporary than we like to think it is.

Via Business Insider, NY Times, Multimania, The Independent, Conrad Schmitt, and Egyptian Museum.