rivendellrose: (try science)
Just when those of us in the northern hemisphere are starting to enjoy the lengthening days of springtime, NASA scientists say that the Chile earthquake may have shortened the Earth's days by 1.26 microseconds.

Of course, a microsecond is barely noticeable in the grand scheme of things, but it's still pretty damned mind-boggling to think that an earthquake was big enough to make the Earth's axis shimmy a bit.
rivendellrose: (try science)
Your irregular science update!

You know those adorable pipefish, where the males gestate the young? Yeah. Not quite such perfect dads when you realize they sometimes absorb some of the young. Biological necessity of course, and females of a lot of species do that, too, if times are hard. But still a bit of a surprise!

Best fossils and dinosaurs of 2009.

Secrets to a happy marriage - who says science can't help with love? ♥ (Alas, I just noticed the whole article is available only for subscribers.)

Something everyone here ought to know: Girl gamers are geekier than guy gamers. ;)

I know I've been crap about posting my pics from Japan, and I really will fix that soon, but [livejournal.com profile] maymargaret and I ran into a bunch of carp at a lake, and I loved them... however, I'm really glad they were NOT 100 lbs, like the ones invading the Great Lakes region apparently can be. I'm not sure I'm okay with carp that weigh almost as much as I do.
rivendellrose: (octopus)
The veined octopus in Australia is added to the ongoing list of animals known to use tools.

Not only use, I would add - modify and carry around with them for future use. The shells are useless to them until they've cleaned out the silt and other muck that the shells accumulate, and then they have to carry the shell around until they need it - it's no good if they see a predator and then look for a shell. So that's a degree of planning ahead as well.
rivendellrose: (omgwtf)
Spreading the word from a link via [livejournal.com profile] seachanges: Dr Peter Watts, Canadian Sci-Fi Author, Beaten and Arrested and US/Canadian Border. He's been released on bail, now, but will be called back to court in Michigan, and has been charged with felony assault of an officer.

So far, I'm not seeing any mainstream media picking up on this. I'm sure we'll get more details as they come out. Personally, I'm not familiar with this gentleman, but if his statements regarding what happened are true, this is a horribly appalling situation.

Further comments over on Making Light. It is deeply strange that someone would be searched leaving the US (in my experience, they don't give a damn if you're going elsewhere...). I don't know what the hell to make of this - I'm hesitant to give an automatic "he couldn't possibly have done anything," given that I don't know the guy and that it's easy to get freaked out and riled by those kinds of situations, and escalation quickly follows. But in whatever case, the whole thing is extremely disturbing, and I feel very badly for Watts.

A Pay-Pal donation system has been set up to help out with legal fees for the case - see the first link in this entry if you'd like to help.
rivendellrose: (Grove)
Remember way back when the U.S. was all "we're going to war in Afghanistan to protect those poor, oppressed Afghani women!"? Remember how a lot of us wondered why, if that was the reason, they hadn't done anything sooner, or perhaps, you know, maybe a bit less destructive? Or maybe stayed there instead of marching straight on to mess up Iraq even more than it was already messed up?

If we had really been over there to help Afghani women, I believe this would not be happening. These girls want, desperately, to go to school and learn. Their teachers want equally desperately to teach them, and to give their country a future. But everything over there is so screwed up that they are being attacked by men with acid... and still trying to get education to work.

It breaks my heart to know this sort of thing is going on, and I just don't know what, if anything, to do about it.
rivendellrose: (archaeologists (the Doctor laughs at the)
Another wrinkle in efforts to figure out the exact story of Human evolution - turns out, Peking Man might have lived '750,000 years ago—200,000 years earlier than prior estimates.'

I'll have to look into the dating mechanism being used here - I'm not sure I knew about quartz-dating. If it's a relatively new method, there's still a possibility it might not be calibrated properly, but... hell, still an interesting detail. Especially since it actually neatly clears up some questions. As the article puts it, "It was always a bit puzzling as to why you'd have [Homo erectus subspecies like Peking Man] persisting until relatively late in continental Asia," she said, "when you didn't really see them persisting, for example, in Africa."

On a totally different archaeology note - here's a link to the discovery of human remains that were "treated for vampirism" in their own era - the skeleton of a woman from 17th (?) century Italy. I'm pretty sure the original article I read gave the date for the skeleton and noted that it was the earliest found so far, but... unfortunately, I can't seem to find that version of the story anymore. Either way, I was a bit surprised that the answer seemed to be sticking a brick in the body's mouth. Hadn't heard that one before.
rivendellrose: (yay!)
Congratulations to the wonderful Terry Pratchett, who was knighted today!

Also... stupid-American question: There's a bit of a debate going on over here, among those of us who know and care about this, whether the whole being-knighted thing consists of just a proclamation, or if there's still the whole ceremonial thing with the sword. Anybody know the answer?

And! Happy New Year!!! I know a lot of you have been putting up with all sorts of unpleasant crud this past year, so I hope 2009 is lots better for everyone!
rivendellrose: (Lucy Saxon - so you say...)
Headline on NPR.org: Study says Tolerance Can Lower Gay Kids' Suicide Risk.

In other news, rain is wet, fire is hot, and grass tends, when watered appropriately, to be green.

Brainlessly obvious excerpt: A new study suggests that parental acceptance, and even neutrality, with regard to a child's sexual orientation could have a big impact in reducing this rate.

Honestly. In what twisted, idiotic world can we actually call this news? Newsflash: If you tell your kids they're going to hell and throw them out of the house and things like that, they might kill themselves. If you can't figure this out on your own, you officially fail at not only parenthood but, in fact, sentient living. Please go back to the wet little pond of bacteria and start over from square one, dumb-asses. (For the record, I'm not really mad at NPR over this - I'm mad that they actually have to say it, because people are still such idiots that they won't accept their kids over something so gods-fucking-damned trivial.)

In news that annoys me only slightly less than NPR apparently feeling like they need to treat this study like some kind of flipping breakthrough, the guy sitting behind me at the library just farted. This is how I'm spending the extra hour I got by getting a ride home from work, everybody. Isn't life grand? :P
rivendellrose: (New Earth)
Okay, I'm supposed to be working, but... real fast links.

First: We have confirmation of actual WATER on Mars!

And then: We might actually have a theory on viable FTL!

Given all of this, I'm half expecting a news flash in a few hours alerting us that something walked right up and knocked on the side of the Phoneix lander, because that is just about all that we're missing in terms of me being a completely happy geek.

...Wait, I lied. In order to be a completely happy geek, I need a blue police box to park outside the office just long enough for me to run out and get in. Then I'll be completely happy. ;)
rivendellrose: (Seattle rain)
Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. - Oscar Wilde

Links:

Discover Channel's tribute to NASA's past and future.

NASA's main site.

NASA image archive.

I can think of nothing more impressive that the human race has accomplished, than that we have gone beyond the boundaries of our own little planet out into the stars. Every step along that way is a trial, and we're bound to fall from time to time, but it's so much better than lying down again and giving up the universe.
rivendellrose: (Default)
I'm not sure how many of you are aware of it, but a movie called "Expelled" has been getting a lot of (very unflattering) press attention in skeptical and atheist circles lately, and I thought I'd link to a bit of extended information on it.

Basically, "Expelled" itself is a film intended to bolster the Intelligent Design (read: creationism) cause by claiming that I.D.-oriented scientists are being oppressed in America, that there's some sort of conspiracy against them, and, most disturbing, that atheism is inextricably tied with Nazism. I won't even dignify that last charge with a response beyond sheer horror and disgust, but the rest... well. Let's just say that it seems the producers doth protest too much when they talk about the supposed dastardly oppression I.D. folks suffer at the hands of non-creationist scientists. Turns out they got a number of their interviews under false pretenses (claiming an entirely different film, title, subject, etc), and more recently expelled one of the gentlemen who was interviewed for the movie from a press screening that he signed up for and attended by perfectly legitimate means.

If you're interested in further information, please check out Expelled Exposed, a website created by Eugenie Scott, one of the people who was interviewed under false pretenses, or the interviews on The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe (my very favorite podcast, and entirely worthwhile for other reasons as well as this!). And lest you think it's just the people involved who think something's fishy here, take a look at what the New York Times thinks of the whole fiasco.

Whatever people may think of Intelligent Design, it's entirely inappropriate to take interviews without giving people the truth about what their words will be used for. That's just unacceptable and unethical. For that alone I'd like to spread the word of this stupidity as far as possible - the fact that I detest Intelligent Design is just icing on the cake, for me. ;)

*Cough* Edited because I apparently really am as tired as I feel... I can type, really. >____>
rivendellrose: (daydream)
As I returned from Starbucks a minute ago...

CoWorker J: Heath Ledger is dead.
Me: Oh, no he's not.
CoWorker J: *Points to 'breaking news' headline on MSNBC*

Given our work environment, I don't think I can entirely be blamed for thinking this was a joke, but still, slightly embarrassing on top of the obvious "wow, that's sad." Even more sad? They're not saying it yet, but I'd put money on drugs as the cause.

Update: And, yes, we now have confirmation of pills everywhere. *Sighs* Of course. The most popular way to cut a brilliant career short.

And, hell, while I'm news-spamming...

Like global-warming and all the other stuff wasn't enough, now we're running out of dirt.

sad news

Dec. 12th, 2007 01:42 pm
rivendellrose: (buffy)
For those who haven't seen it, Terry Pratchett has posted a statement regarding his health. It's not good news.
rivendellrose: (Default)
I hate junk email. Inevitably, in my efforts to get rid of it, I delete something that's kind of important. *Headdesk* And my work email? Doesn't have a "garbage" folder. When you delete things, they're just gone. Oops. o_O

It wasn't... immensely important... at least I hope it wasn't...

I've been rabidly emotional lately. I'm not sure what the hell is going on, but I'll be very glad when my emotions settle back down, thankyouverymuch.

And on a totally random note, I'm a bit disappointed by the end to the "looming succession crisis" in Japan - as relieved as I am on Princess Kiko's behalf that the baby was a boy, I really hate that this is going to shelve the female succession issue.

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