Thursday, January 31, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

For example: Using a mobile before bedtime can delay you getting to sleep.

More details

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Bible According to Google Earth

The Crucifixion

(via Mental Floss) Here’s a cool idea realized: a Sydney, Australia-based art collective called The Glue Society has re-created scenes from the Bible as if captured by Google Earth’s ubiquitous satellites. Says Glue Society’s James Dive: “We like to disorientate audiences a little with all our work. And with this piece we felt technology now allows events which may or may not have happened to be visualized and made to appear dramatically real. As a method of representation satellite photography is so trusted, it has been interesting to mess with that trust.” Let’s see what they created!

The Garden of Eden
Noah and That Large Boat of His
Parting of the Red Sea

Through Panama Canal In 75 Seconds

This amazing timelapse video shows a chemical tanker transiting the Panama Canal in 75 seconds.
Through Panama Canal In 75 Seconds - For more funny movies, click here Through Panama Canal In 75 Seconds

Evolution In 5 Minutes

This video shows you how animals evolved over the years.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

US spy satellite out of control, could plummet to Earth

A "large" US spy satellite has gone out of control and is expected to crash to Earth some time in late February or March, government sources say.

Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the satellite had lost power and propulsion, and could contain hazardous materials.

The satellite contains the rocket fuel hydrazine, a government official told AP on condition of anonymity.

A colourless liquid with an ammonia-like odour, the fuel is a toxic chemical and can cause harm to anyone who comes in contact with it.

John Pike, director of the defense research group, said an uncontrolled re-entry could risk exposure of US secrets.

Spy satellites typically are disposed of through a controlled re-entry into the ocean so that no one else can access the spacecraft, he was quoted by AP as saying.

First U.S City To Be Lit With 100% LEDs: Ann Arbor

led lights Ann Arbor is on its way to being the first U.S. city to light up its downtown with 100% LED-based streetlights. The city expects to install more than 1,000 LED streetlights beginning next month. The city anticipates a 3.8-year payback on its initial investment.The LED lights typically burn five times longer than the bulbs they replace and require less than half the energy. (source)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Elephants Evolve Smaller Tusks Due to Poaching

elephant tusk It appears that in at least one case, however, evolution is occurring at what seems like jet speed. In the last 150 years, the world’s elephant population has evolved much smaller tusks.

The average size of an African elephant’s tusks has gone down by half in the last century and a half. Indian elephants have undergone a similar tusk size reduction.

Experts believe the rapid evolution of the massive land mammals is due to poaching. Zoologists from Oxford University suggest that ivory poachers, who go for the largest males with the largest tusks, have caused the breeding behaviors of the animals to change rapidly in a short time.

The largest male African elephants have the largest tusks. These tusks are extremely important in elephant behavior, with the largest tusks usually resulting in more successful intimidation of smaller males or winning fights for female elephants. But when the largest animals are killed, it changes the breeding patterns of the animals. In short, without the largest males for competition, the smaller males with their smaller tusks will breed more successfully, and their offspring will have smaller tusks.

Beautiful Blue Ice

Annette and Jon were touring in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile, Southern Patagonia when they found an amazing site. A Blue Ice glacier.Here's the story in their own words: "When viewing the terminal face of a glacier, typically you only see 10% of the glacier on the surface. Calving, a natural occurrence where the glacier loses ice from its' terminus, results in large free-floating chunks of ice. This particular ice had broken off from the glacier the evening before from underwater / lower portion of the glacier.

"Witnesses heard a cracking and a loud "boom," and then the ice surfaced. We understand ice this large breaks off from under the glacier approximately once a year and we were fortunate to be able to photograph it. The ice is a very deep blue as it is deprived of oxygen. Within 24 hours it will be white as the typical floating ice pieces."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Web-Based Mapping Tools Help Governments Transform GIS into New Services

gps gis Not so long ago, only a select group of users could take advantage of GIS tools and applications. The general public barely knew what GIS was, let alone knew how to use it. Today, the Web allows GIS data to be distributed via ever-evolving avenues, from the practical - traditional GIS services made available online - to imaginative applications like Google Sky, a Web-based, 3-D map of the universe.

Citizens, businesses and governments are finding new ways to reap the benefits of this revolution in how location data is understood and depicted. Data once found exclusively in GIS circles is appearing in common, everyday tools.

Some people wonder if these emerging applications should be considered GIS at all. Has the combination of location data and the Internet created something altogether new? How can government use new mapping tools to not only enhance citizen service, but also improve internal efficiency? And how do traditional GIS applications match up against the new kids on the block? These are just a few of the questions that have arisen in what may well be the golden age of GIS. (...continue)

Kite-powered ship sets sail for greener future

kite powered ship A cargo ship pulled by a giant, parachute-shaped kite will leave Germany on Tuesday on a voyage that could herald a new "green" age of commercial sailing on the high seas.

The owners of the MS Beluga, a 462ft cargo vessel, will try to prove that modern steel ships can harness wind power and reduce their reliance on diesel engines.

During the journey from Bremen to Venezuela, the crew will deploy a SkySail, a 160 square metre kite which will fly more than 600ft above the vessel, where winds are stronger and more consistent than at sea level.

Its inventor, Stephan Wrage, a 34-year-old German engineer, claims the kite will significantly reduce carbon emissions, cutting diesel consumption by up to 20 per cent and saving £800 a day in fuel costs. He believes an even bigger kite, up to 5,000 square metres, could result in fuel savings of up to 35 per cent. (...continue)

Newfoundland Frozen Waves

This strange weather phenomenon happened in Newfoundland where the waves were actually frozen as they crashed on the beach. This strange weather phenomenon happened in Newfoundland where the waves were actually frozen as they crashed on the beach. Wouldn't want to go surfing that day.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Arctic Ice All Gone By 2012?

An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.

Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by The Associated Press.

This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: "At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

6.4 quake strikes off the coast of Oregon

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck off the central Oregon coast at 8:37 p.m. EST on Wednesday (0137 GMT Thursday), the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The temblor was located 151 miles (243 km) west-northwest of Barview, Oregon, at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 km), the USGS said. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no current warning or advisory was in effect following the quake.

Lanny Boston, the fire chief in Bandon, Oregon, also 151 miles from the site of the quake off the Oregon coast, said he had not felt the quake and had received no reports of damage.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Chile's Llaima volcano erupts Jan 01/08

(Raw video)January 01/08...The Llaima volcano in southern Chile erupted, sending up a huge plume of smoke and coating the surrounding wilderness park with ash, forcing the evacuation of dozens of tourists, emergency officials said.

There were no reports of damages or injuries.

The volcano is in the Araucania region in southern Chile, inside Conguillio National Park and about 82 km from the city of Temuco.

Local television images showed a column of dark smoke visible from many miles away.

Before the eruption, people in the towns closest to the volcano said they heard loud noises underground.

"We've ordered the evacuation of more than 100 tourists that were in the Conguillio reserve, where a lot of ash has fallen, Carmen Fernandez, director of Chile's National Emergency Office, told reporters.

The emergency office said the volcano began erupting at 18:20 pm and that lava was flowing down the eastern side of the mountain.

An official at the emergency office said it was still unclear whether the eruption would be brief or sustained.

The 3,125-meter Llaima volcano, one of Chile's most active, has frequent moderate eruptions.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Mapping Slavery in America

Edwin Hergesheimer’s map of Southern slavery was printed in September of 1861 and sold to raise money for sick and wounded Union soldiers. It identified the percentage of the population enslaved in each county, and the total number of slaves—four million, up from 700,000 in 1790—was a figure that could not have gone unnoticed by Americans living through such violent upheaval. By using this relatively new “choropleth” technique of shading, Hergesheimer showed Americans their country through the lens of slavery.

The “slave map” was of particular interest to President Abraham Lincoln, as illustrated in a painting by Francis Bichnell Carpenter, First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln. The artist spent six months living at the White House in order to complete this work, and in that time repeatedly observed Lincoln studying the map.

To master the detail on the map for his painting, Carpenter surreptitiously borrowed it; and when the president visited the artist in his White House studio a few days later he remarked, “You have appropriated my map, have you? I have been looking all around for it.” According to Carpenter, Lincoln was once again instantly absorbed by the map and used it to trace the recent progress of Union troops through Virginia.

It gave Lincoln happy news, for the areas conquered by the Union just that week were densely populated with slaves. Thus Hergesheimer’s map appears in the corner of Carpenter’s painting, a detail as meticulously chosen as the artist’s arrangement of Lincoln’s cabinet: those sympathetic to emancipation appear on the president’s right, while the more conservative members are placed at his left.

The map also appealed to Carpenter for its elegant organization of information. By just a glance, one could see the proportion of blacks to whites in the Southern states, which made it impossible to deny that slavery was at the heart of the rebellion. (source)