Friday, June 10, 2011

Vacations cancelled, seaworld isnt safe anymore!

Diving bell spiders spin 'bubbles' of web that not only let them live under water, but serve as gills that take in oxygen from the water. Now two biologists have measured what makes these bubbles fail, and how often the spiders need to surface.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you find out that you have a little friend down there. And it can breathe underwater longer than you can. Diving bell spiders live in fresh water ponds, and use bubbles made of web to dive down beneath the surface of the water. They use their little bubbles as a store of oxygen, monitoring the carbon dioxide levels in the bubbles carefully. When scientists filled some bubbles with carbon dioxide and some with oxygen, and only the spiders short on oxygen returned to the surface.
Later it was discovered that not only do the spiders breathe in their diving bells, but the bells themselves harvest oxygen from the water through diffusion. The atmosphere is composed of 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen. Once under the water's surface, things change. Oxygen dissolves much more readily in water than nitrogen does. Air dissolved in water contains 35 percent oxygen. Substances diffuse from higher to lower concentration, so the high concentration of oxygen in the water crosses the membrane of the spider's silk and diffuses into the bubble.
How the diving bell spider uses physics to breathe underwater
If it weren't for nitrogen, the spider might be able to stay in the bubble indefinitely. Sadly, since the spider gathers surface air, with 78 percent nitrogen, to fill its bubble, and then goes to a place with a much lower concentration of nitrogen, the nitrogen leaks out of the bubble the way the oxygen leaks in. This causes the bubble to shrink, and the spider has to make runs to the surface of the water to re-fill.
Two biologists recently studied how often the spider has to get to the surface of the water. They found diving bell spiders in the wild, and poked sensors into their bells. To their surprise, the spiders were untperturbed by this and just kept going. Over time, they measured the oxygen levels in the bells. The bubbles could harvest oxygen from even hot, stagnant water, and the spiders dropped their metabolic rate until it resembled the rate that other spiders have when waiting for prey. Between the two, the researchers calculated that the spider would only have to make a run to the surface once a day. The rest of its life can be spent underwater. Looking for a way into your swimsuit.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mars....Attacks? Ack ack ack!

What the hell is this thing they just discovered on Mars?

JUNE 5, 2011 · 65 COMMENTS
This is not the kind of story we typically cover at, but we’re making an exception because THIS IS FREAKIN’ STRANGE.
David Martines was playing with Google Mars when he stumbled across something that is absolutely inexplicable.
Let’s let David describe it:
“This structure is 700′ x 150′, and is colored white with blue and red stripes against the red Martian soil. This is not a rock or mountain. It is a manufactured structure. This is not something that I created, this is something that is currently on Google Mars. NASA won’t talk to me about it. I’ve sent them a few emails, and no reply. Go see for yourself. The coordinates are: 71 49’19.73″N 29 33’06.53″W.”
Watch the video and you’ll say the same thing we did:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I thought this was interesting

"Will Life Beyond Earth Have DNA Roots?" World's Leading Authorities Say "Maybe Not"

 "To the best of our knowledge, the twenty-one original chemicals chosen by known life do not constitute a unique set; other choices could have been made, and maybe were made if life started elsewhere many times."
Paul Davies -leading authority in astrobiology, director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and co-director of the ASU Cosmology Initiative.
A recent mathematical analysis says that life as we know it is written into the laws of reality.  DNA is built from a set of twenty amino acids - the first ten of those can create simple prebiotic life, and now it seems that those ten are thermodynamically destined to occur wherever they can.
For those unfamiliar with thermodynamics, it's the Big Brother of all energy equations and science itself.  You can apply quantum mechanics at certain scales, and Newtonian mechanics work at the right speeds, but if Thermodynamics says something then everyone listens. 

An energy analysis by Ralph Pudritz, a theoretical astrophysicist and director of the Origins Institute at McMaster University shows that the first ten amino acids are likely to form at relatively low temperatures and pressures, and the calculated odds of formation match the concentrations of these life-chemicals found in meteorite samples.

They also match those in simulations of early Earth, and most critically, those simulations were performed by other people.  The implications are staggering: good news for anyone worried about how we're alone, and bad news for anyone who demands some kind of "Designer" to put life together - it seems that physics can assemble the organic jigsaw all by itself, thank you very much, and has probably done so throughout space since the beginning of everything.

The study indicates that you don't need a miracle to arrive at the chemical cocktail for early life, just a decently large asteroid with the right components.  That's all.  The entire universe could be stuffed with life, from the earliest prebiotic protein-a-likes to fully DNAed descendants. The path from one to the other is long, but we've had thirteen and a half billion years so far and it's happened at least once.

The other ten amino acids aren't as easy to form, but they'll still turn up - and the process of "stepwise evolution" means that once the simpler systems work, they can grab the rarer "epic drops" of more sophisticated chemicals as they occur - kind of a World of Lifecraft except you literally get a life when you play.  And once even the most sophisticated structure is part of a replicating organism, there's plenty to go round.

Early Earth was covered with carbonaceous material from meteorites and comets that provided the raw materials from which first life emerged. In his new book, The Eerie Silence, astrophysicist Paul Davies of Arizona State University suggests that the original cells would have been able to pick and choose from the early Earth's organic cocktail. To the best of our knowledge, he writes, "the twenty-one chosen by known life do not constitute a unique set; other choices could have been made, and maybe were made if life started elsewhere many times."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Nice! Earthworm Jim anyone?

Deepest-dwelling land animal, "worm from hell," is discovered in a gold mine

Scientists have discovered a new species of multicellular creature, a roundworm, in a mine in South Africa, at a depth where it was thought animals couldn't survive

Scientists have found complex, multicellular creatures – worms – living a mile or more below the planet’s surface, deep in the Earth where it was thought previously that animals could not survive, BBC News reported.
The new species, nicknamed “worms from hell,” according to the Washington Post, is a nematode, or roundworm, that can tolerate temperatures higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and very low oxygen levels, and it feeds on subsurface bacteria, according to the New York Times. The worm is tiny, two hundredths of an inch at the longest.
The research could trigger scientific challenges and cause controversy because it places more complex life in conditions where scientists have generally thought that it couldn't exist, the Washington Post said.
Single-cell organisms have been known to live more than 9,000 feet below the surface of the Earth. But it was thought that the temperature, energy, oxygen and space constraints of that kind of environment were too extreme for multicellular organisms, according to the New York Times.
The discovery of Halicephalobus mephisto, named after Faust's Lord of the Underworld, in a shaft of the Beatrix gold mine in South Africa, is reported in the journal Nature.
The scientists had been searching for subsurface life for 15 years, focusing on the ultra-deep mines of South Africa, which penetrate more than 1.8 miles into the Earth. In the Beatrix gold mine, the two lead researchers, Gaetan Borgonie of the University of Ghent in Belgium and Tullis Onstott of Princeton University, found more than they were looking for: the tiny nematode, with nervous, digestive and reproductive systems. The researchers were able to get H. mephisto to reproduce, and the species is still "squirming around in the lab," Onstott said, according to
The researchers say their findings should be taken into consideration in the search for life in other extreme conditions. Scientists seeking life beyond Earth are intrigued by the possibility that microbes could be living below the surface of Mars, in particular — a planet that is now cold, dry and bombarded by radiation but was once wetter, warmer and better-protected by an atmosphere, the Washington Post said. But with the new find, Borgonie said, “Life on Mars could be more complex than we imagined."
Michael Meyer, the lead scientist for Mars exploration at NASA, who was not involved in the study, said that researchers had assumed that any subsurface life on a planet like Mars would be unicellular, according to But now, he said, "This kinds of opens it up to, well, even multicellular life could be possible."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Here, hold this while i run for president

RALEIGH, N.C. – A federal grand jury charged two-time presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday with soliciting and covering up the secret spending of more than $925,000 to hide his mistress and their baby during the peak of his 2008 campaign for the White House.
The grand jury's indictment in the case of USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards contained six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of receiving illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements.
The indictment said the payments were a scheme to protect Edwards' White House ambitions. "A centerpiece of Edwards' candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man," the indictment said.
"Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and the pregnancy would destroy his candidacy by, among other things, undermining Edwards' presentation of himself as a family man and by forcing his campaign to divert personnel and resources away from other campaign activities to respond to criticism and media scrutiny regarding the affair and pregnancy," the indictment added.
The indictment and an arrest warrant were filed in Greensboro, N.C., which is in the district where his campaign was headquartered.
Edwards, 58, was scheduled to make an initial appearance Friday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Auld in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Negotiations between Edwards' attorneys and federal prosecutors to settle on a charge to which Edwards was willing to plead guilty continued through Thursday, but proved fruitless, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. Prosecutors had insisted on a plea to a felony, which would endanger his ability to keep his license to practice law.
If convicted, Edwards faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the six counts. First time white collar offenders usually don't receive prison terms in federal court, but the Justice Department typically presses for at least a short prison sentence for public officials. While Edwards was a private citizen as a candidate, he was receiving taxpayer money for his presidential campaign.
Edwards did not comment directly, but his attorneys issued statements from campaign finance experts advising him. The experts argued the Mellon and Baron payments were not campaign contributions. One, former Federal Elections Commission Chairman Scott Thomas, said if the FEC had investigated it would have found the payments did not violate the law, even as a civil matter.
"A criminal prosecution of a candidate on these facts would be outside anything I would expect after decades of experience with the campaign finance laws," Thomas said.
The indictment is the culmination of a federal investigation begun by the FBI more than two years ago. The probe scoured virtually every corner of Edwards' political career. That included his political action committees, a nonprofit and a so-called 527 independent political group. It even examined whether he did anything improper during his time in the U.S. Senate, which ended seven years ago.
But the centerpiece of the investigation has long been the hundreds of thousands of dollars privately provided by two wealthy Edwards supporters — his former campaign finance chairman Fred Baron and Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, the 100-year-old widow of banking heir Paul Mellon. That money eventually went to keep mistress Rielle Hunter and her out-of-wedlock baby in hiding in 2007 and 2008, during the apex of the Democratic nomination campaign.
The indictment refers to $725,000 in payments made by Mellon and another $200,000 made by Baron. It said the money was used to pay for Hunter's living and medical expenses and for chartered airfare, luxury hotels and rental for a house in Santa Barbara, Calif., to keep her hidden from the public.
Mellon sent her money through her decorator. The indictment said she listed items of furniture in the memo lines of her checks such as "chairs," "antique Charleston table," and "book case" to hide the true purpose.
It accused Edwards of lying when he told the media he never knew about any payments.
The indictment refers to Edwards' discussions with a former employee in summer 2009 in which they prepared a statement to the media in which he would admit he was the father of Frances Quinn Hunter. A person familiar with the investigation has identified the former employee as speechwriter Wendy Button. The indictment said Edwards told her that he was aware Baron provided money to hide Hunter from the media.
"Edwards further told the employee that this was a huge issue and that for `legal and practical reasons' it should not be mentioned in the statement they were preparing," the indictment said. The statement Edwards eventually issued seven months later claiming paternity did not mention the money spent on Hunter.
Former campaign staffer Andrew Young, who initially claimed paternity of Hunter's child, has said Edwards was aware of the private financial support that helped keep the mistress satisfied and secluded. Prosecutors believe the private gifts should have been considered campaign contributions since they aided his candidacy.
The case opens a new front in how the federal government oversees the flow of money around political campaigns. An attorney for Edwards said last week that the government's case was "novel and untested" and argued that the government's theory was wrong on both the facts and the law.
With one of Edwards' former campaign rivals now sitting in the White House, the case includes a measure of political intrigue. Greg Craig, who was previously White House counsel for President Barack Obama, emerged as a leading figure on Edwards' legal team just as Obama's Justice Department was reviewing the case that prosecutors in North Carolina had prepared.
Meanwhile, with the backing of North Carolina's two senators, Republican-appointed U.S. attorney George Holding stayed on the job in the Obama administration to finish the Edwards probe.
"Democracy demands that our election system be protected, and without vigorously enforced campaign finance laws, the people of this country lose their voice," said Holding. "The U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice are committed to the prosecution of individuals who abuse the very system of which they seek to become a part."
Edwards and Hunter began their relationship in 2006, just as the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee was plotting a second run for the White House. She was hired to shoot behind-the-scenes video footage of the prospective candidate. Edwards' political action committee and a nonprofit affiliated with him both paid Hunter's video-production firm about $100,000 for the work.
Edwards initially denied having an affair with Hunter but eventually admitted to it in the summer of 2008. He then denied being the father of her child before finally confessing last year. His wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer in December.
Young has said that Edwards agreed in 2007 to solicit money directly from Mellon. And the long-time Edwards aide, now estranged from his former boss, has said he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks from Mellon — some hidden in boxes of chocolate.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, said, "As this indictment shows, we will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws."
Mellon and Edwards are still friendly despite the glare of the federal investigation. They had lunch together at her Virginia estate last week even as the indictment appeared imminent.
Baron's support was even more direct. The wealthy trial lawyer said in 2008 that he helped Young and Hunter move across the country to protect them from media scrutiny. Baron, who died a few months later, said Edwards wasn't aware of the aid, but Young has said that Edwards did know.
Young, Hunter and Baron's wife were among many Edwards aides and supporters who were called to testify before a federal grand jury or have been interviewed by investigators.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Falx is out tonight, which sucks. Hopefully i can get my application to smcc in and stuff. More to come!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Been distracted with minecraft, holy crap that game is addicting. Back to some archaeology in wow. GL sirs