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December 01, 2008

Where have all the acorns gone?

Acorn Watchers Wonder What Happened to Crop - washingtonpost.com

Have trees reacted to fluctuating weather by not producing new seeds?

The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn't find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head.

Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill.

But Simmons really got spooked when he was teaching a class on identifying oak and hickory trees late last month. For 2 1/2 miles, Simmons and other naturalists hiked through Northern Virginia oak and hickory forests. They sifted through leaves on the ground, dug in the dirt and peered into the tree canopies. Nothing.

Obama May Cancel Space Shuttle Replacement

FOXNews.com - Obama May Cancel Space Shuttle Replacement - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News
WASHINGTON — U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's NASA transition team is asking U.S. space agency officials to quantify how much money could be saved by canceling the Ares 1 rocket and scaling back the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle next year.... While NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and his senior managers are adamant that Ares and Orion are the right vehicles to fill that role, Obama did not endorse either system by name during his campaign.. If that omission was enough to raise doubts about the incoming administration's commitment to a rocket some believe will prove much tougher to field than NASA is ready to admit, the five-page list of questions Obama's NASA transition team sent to the agency Nov. 24 probably will not make Ares supporters feel any better.

November 30, 2008

Cool light show in the south-west night sky

All Is Bright for Jupiter, Venus - washingtonpost.comUnwrap a bounty...

Google to save your brain?

Internet searching stimulates brain, study says

It's too early to conclude that technology will help vanquish Alzheimer's disease, but "our study shows that when your brain is on Google, your neural circuitry changes extensively," said psychiatrist Gary Small, director of UCLA's Memory & Aging Research Center.

The new study, which will be published next month in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, comes at a time when medical experts are forecasting that Alzheimer's cases will quadruple by 2050. In response to such projections, "brain-gyms" and memory-building computer programs have proliferated.

The subjects in Small's nine-month study were 24 neurologically normal volunteers ages 55 to 76, with similar education levels. They were assigned two tasks: to read book-like text on computer screens and to perform Internet searches.

November 26, 2008

Matter is actually no more than fluctuations in the quantum vacuum.

via | New Scientist | It's confirmed: Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations
Matter is built on flaky foundations. Physicists have now confirmed that the apparently substantial stuff is actually no more than fluctuations in the quantum vacuum. The researchers simulated the frantic activity that goes on inside protons and neutrons. These particles provide almost all the mass of ordinary matter. Each proton (or neutron) is made of three quarks - but the individual masses of these quarks only add up to about 1% of the proton's mass. So what accounts for the rest of it? Theory says it is created by the force that binds quarks together, called the strong nuclear force. In quantum terms, the strong force is carried by a field of virtual particles called gluons, randomly popping into existence and disappearing again. The energy of these vacuum fluctuations has to be included in the total mass of the proton and neutron.

November 24, 2008

It's not a tumor, it's a brainworm

FOXNews.com - It's Not a Tumor - Doctors Find Worm In Woman's Brain Instead - Health News | Current Health News | Medical News

With video of the brain surgery.

Doctors in Arizona thought a Phoenix-area woman had a possible brain tumor, but it turned out there was something else penetrating her brain – a worm.

Rosemary Alvarez started experiencing numbness in her arm and blurred vision. She went to the emergency room twice and had a cat scan, but everything came up clear

. . .

Doctors removed the worm and don't believe Alvarez will have any lingering health problems. No one knows exactly where she picked up the worm –- doctors said worms can come from eating undercooked pork or spread by people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, according to the report.

I for one welcome our new Neanderthal/chimp hybrid underclass

I wrote Frtiz the following regarding his post: Poor Mojo Newswire: Neanderthal Resurrection
My kids and I had this exact same discussion this weekend. My daughter asked about mules, and could they breed. I said no, they can't, because they are combination of two animals in the same genus, but different species (I'm pretty sure that's how it works). So she asked about breeding humans and chimps, and I said EWWWWW well, I don't think so because they are different genii.... But if it could work... wow. In any event, society doesn't need a new underclass, or assumed sub-humans. No.
What think you, O future exploiters of Neanderthal/chimp labor and champions of Neanderthal/chimp quasi-human rights?