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December 15, 2008

Thundersnow

Lightning strikes give blizzard warning - environment - 15 December 2008 - New Scientist

A FLASH of lightning during a snowstorm may be nature's way of signalling that the worst is yet to come.

The combination of snow, lightning and muted thunder occurs occasionally in storms across the temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia, often near lakes or cyclones. Eyewitness accounts of these rare events, known as "thundersnows", date back thousands of years to ancient China, and suggest that lightning tends to strike in parts of the storm where the most snow is falling.

Dubai building refrigerated beach

Think Progress -- Dubai plans to build refrigerated beach.

Needless to say, refrigerating a beach creates an enormous amount of CO2 pollution. Also, most of Dubai is built with slave labor.

Dubai is planning to construct the world’s first refrigerated beach. A system of heat-absorbing pipes and giant wind blowers will “keep tourists cool in the searing 40-50C heat.” Soheil Abedian, president of Palazzo Versace hotel that will be home to the refrigerated beach, said: “We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on. This is the kind of luxury that top people want.” Critics have argued that Dubai’s design lacks regard for the environment:

Rachel Noble, of Tourism Concern, said: “Dubai is like a bubble world where the things that are worrying the rest of the world, like climate change, are simply ignored so people can continue destructive lifestyles.”

December 14, 2008

Nat'l Geo: Best Pictures of Microscopic Life, 2008

PHOTOS: Best Pictures of Microscopic Life, 2008 1-SWalker-Fairy-Fly_461.jpg

December 13, 2008

Y! The Last Man for reals

Modern life stole my dick. It's official: Men really are the weaker sex - Science, News - The Independent
The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals. The research – to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people.... It also follows hard on the heels of new American research which shows that baby boys born to women exposed to widespread chemicals in pregnancy are born with smaller penises and feminised genitals.

December 09, 2008

2008 to get even longer

2008 to be extended by one second - space - 09 December 2008 - New Scientist

And it already feels like the longest year ever.

Those eager to see 2008 come to a close will have to wait a second longer. A single leap second will be added at the end of the year to accommodate a subtle slow-down in the Earth's rotation.

The decision, made earlier this year by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, will adjust coordinated universal time (UTC), which is used to calibrate national and regional clocks around the world.

The leap second will be added on 31 December 2008 at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds UTC.

December 03, 2008

How Hitler perverted the course of science

How Hitler perverted the course of science - Telegraph

Yet once you dig a little deeper, what is so disturbing is how prosaic the reality was, how similar in form, if not content, their work was to the research of today. As I discovered when researching a history of the Nazis at war, much of what scientists did under the Third Reich was regarded as "normal science", subject to standard protocols of peer review in conferences and journals. The infamous Dr Josef Mengele regarded himself as a normal scientist, held seminars to discuss his experiments, got research funds from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and reported regularly to his teacher, the eminent scientist Otmar von Verschuer, on his progress.

Mengele's research at Auschwitz, in particular, shows how the system worked. His experiments there were intended to be a contribution to his second doctorate, the Habilitation, which all German academics needed to qualify for a university professorship. Under Verschuer's guidance, he selected twins from the trainloads of Jews who arrived and injected them with chemicals to see if they reacted differently from one another. He collected prisoners with physical abnormalities, such as heterochromia – having a different colour in each eye – to investigate if their condition was hereditary. He treated gipsy and other children for starvation-related diseases, using vitamins and sulphonamides, to see if there were hereditary differences in their response to the therapy.

Mengele's work was pure research, without any obvious practical application. He gained his notoriety from his willingness to kill his subjects under certain circumstances – such as settling an argument about a diagnosis by executing patients and performing an autopsy. However, most survivors remembered him not for his experiments but for his ruthless and brutal behaviour on the selection ramp, or in the camp hospital, where he frequently consigned sick inmates to the gas chamber on the slightest of whims.