Sep 11, 2010

In memorian 9/11

How many remembers where they were when they heard about the attacks against World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Probably alot of you out there still remembers where you were and what you were doing even that you didn't have any connection to any of those places nor the people who died that day.
I, myself was stuck at work and didn't hear about it until six hours after it had happened. I didn't get what had happened until I was on my way home and stopped by a pizzaplace and saw the videos on the telly. The channel they had on? It was CNN. The people at the pizzaplace only said: "Damn al Quida". The only thing that I was able to think about at that moment was that there were a person in N.Y. that I knew and loved who used to be in the WTC area.

9 years has now passed and my memory is still hounted by that day. You can read about 9/11 in the newspapers and you hear about it in the newscasts but it's not that much about the people who died that day! Did you forget that there were poeple who died that day? Innocent people who just happened to live in the US of A!
At least 2,985 people died in the September 11, 2001, attacks, including:
  • 19 terrorists
  • 2,966 victims [2,998 as of Spring 2009]
All but 13 people died on that day. The remaining 13 later died of their wounds. One person has died since the attacks, of lung cancer. It is suspected to have been caused by all the debris from the Twin Towers.

There were 266 people on the four planes:
  • American Airlines Flight 11 (crashed into the WTC): 92 (including five terrorists)
  • United Airlines Flight 175 (crashed into the WTC): 65 (including five terrorists)
  • American Airlines Flight 77 (crashed into the Pentagon): 64 (including five terrorists)
  • United Flight 93 (downed in Shanksville, PA): 45 (including four terrorists)

There were 2,595 people in the World Trade Center and near it, including:
  • 343 NYFD firefighters and paramedics
  • 23 NYPD police officers
  • 37 Port Authority police officers
  • 1,402 people in Tower 1
  • 614 people in Tower 2
  • 658 people at one company, Cantor Fitzgerald
  • 1,762 New York residents
  • 674 New Jersey residents
  • 1 NYFD firefighter killed by a man jumping off the top floors of the Twin Towers

There were 125 civilians and military personnel at the Pentagon.
1,609 people lost a spouse or partner on 9/11. More than 3,051 children lost parents.
While it was mostly Americans who were killed in this horrific attack, there were also 327 foreign nationals. Here is the breakdown, according to country:
Argentina: 4
Australia: 11
Bangladesh: 6
Belarus: 1
Belgium: 1
Bermuda: 1
Brazil: 3
Canada: 27
Chile: 2
China: 4
Cote d'Ivoire: 1
Colombia: 17
Democratic Republic of the Congo: 2
Dominican Republic: 1
El Salvador: 1
Ecuador: 3
France: 1
Germany: 11
Ghana: 2
Guyana: 3
Haiti: 2
Honduras: 1
India: 1
Indonesia: 1
Ireland: 6
Israel: 5
Italy: 4
Jamaica: 16
Japan: 26
Jordan: 2
Lebanon: 3
Lithuania: 1
Malaysia: 7
Mexico: 16
Moldova: 1
Netherlands: 1
New Zealand: 2
Nigeria: 1
Panama: 2
Peru: 5
Philippines: 16
Portugal: 3
Poland: 1
Russia: 1
South Africa: 2
South Korea: 28
Spain: 1
Sweden: 1
Taiwan: 1
Ukraine: 1
Uzbekistan: 1
United Kingdom: 67
Venezuela: 1
Shouldn't we remember the people who died today 9 years ago instead of fighting about religion and bookburnings and stuff like that?

Haunting photographs from 9/11

Nine years after the Sept. 11 attacks, these iconic images serve as a reminder of the day's tragic events.
Warning: Graphic Images!

The 9th anniversary of 9/11 marked worldwide

Memorial ceremonies are being held to remember the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terror attacks in America.

Sep 10, 2010

Printing in Three Dimensions

Some of the gadgets engineers come up with are just cool. We’re going to check out one of them. Printing in three-dimensions. Today, on Engineering Works!

Most of us have home computers these days, and they’re all connected to desktop printers. Hit the print key and out comes that report you needed for work or a barbecue sauce recipe from the web. Easy.

That was then. Now, a new kind of printer is taking printing into three-dimensions, not just flat on a piece of paper. These printers print out solid objects, usually in plastic. There aren’t many of the printers around yet. Technology geeks and hobbyists own most of them. They use them to make stuff like jewelry, toys, tools or kitchen appliances.

Tonight Show host and classic car collector Jay Leno even has one. His mechanics use it to print out car parts that they can’t buy any longer. They send the plastic models to machine shops to get real metal parts made, cheaper and faster than custom-designed parts.

The 3-D printers are starting to catch on. You can buy them in some electronics stores or directly from the manufacturers. Prices run from $750 for a desktop kit model to $27,000 for Leno’s refrigerator-sized unit. So far, it’s definitely a niche device, but enthusiasts are sure that someday we’ll be printing out things we need, not just fun stuff.

Read more at Discovery News

Mind-Reading Devices to Help the Speechless Speak

The thoughts are there, but there is no way to express them. For "locked in" patients, many with Lou Gehrig's disease, the only way to communicate tends to be through blinking in code.

But now, words can be read directly from patients' minds by attaching microelectrode grids to the surface of the brain and learning which signals mean which words, a development that will ultimately help such patients talk again.

"They're perfectly aware. They just can't get signals out of their brain to control their facial expressions. "They're the patients we'd like to help first," said University of Utah's Bradley Greger, an assistant professor of bioengineering who, with neurosurgery professor Paul House, M.D., published the study in the October issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering.

Some severely-epileptic patients have the seizure-stricken parts of the brain removed. This standard procedure requires cutting the skull open and putting large, button-sized electrodes on the brain to determine just what needs removal. The electrodes are then taken off the brain.

The University of Utah team worked with an epileptic patient who let them crowd together much smaller devices, called micro-electrocorticography, onto his brain prior to surgery.

"The microelectrode grids that we placed on top of the brain are actually simple technology," Greger said. Made from platinum wires and silicone, a grid of 16 microelectrodes is less than a centimeter in diameter.

"The hard part for us was to figure out how to take the recordings we got from the microelectrodes and relate it to the words that the patients were speaking," Greger said.

Read more at Discovery News

Sep 9, 2010

Ancient Animal Explosion Gets Bigger With New Finds

At least eight new kinds of Earth's earliest animals from the mysterious and controversial Cambrian Explosion have been discovered in a unexpected section of ancient rock 30 miles from the famous Burgess Shale of Canada. The discovery suggests such old, rare fossils are more common than previously thought.

Like the fossils of the original Burgess Shale, the new discoveries are remarkable because they preserve features of animals which had only soft parts -- like gills and eyes -- and remained intact for more than half a billion years.

That's a time when animals evolved from being very small, simple organisms into a wildly creative, explosive variety of sometimes bizarre creatures. These were culled by natural selection over time, leaving the more familiar main animal groups we see today.

Among the more dramatic discoveries is a new kind of "anomalocaridid" -- the monster shrimp-like top predator a half-billion years ago. Some of these sorts of beasts have been found up to two meters long in shale from Chengjiang, China.

"This one is a new genus and species," said Robert Gaines, one of the co-authors of a report on the discovery published in the September issue of the journal Geology.

Detailed descriptions of the other new fossils will be made in additional papers, he said.

"These (different anomalocaridids) are creating the possibility of linkages between these very rare snapshots," all over the world, said paleontologist Nigel Hughes of the University of California at Riverside.

But more compelling is the possibility that there are a lot more such fossils out there preserving the story of one of the most dramatic periods in the history of life.

"What's really exciting is that those (fossils) are so widespread," said Gaines.

The key to that, he said, is in the origins of the shale itself.

Read more at Discovery News

Birds Create Illusions to Look Pumped

Great bowerbirds are known for their dramatic mating displays and elaborate constructions. Now researchers have determined males of this crafty species build staged scenes that make themselves look larger or smaller than they actually are.

As a result, the scientists believe great bowerbirds are the first known non-human animals that create scenes with altered visual perspectives for viewing by other individuals. In this case, those other individuals are female great bowerbirds seeking mates.

Architects, set designers and artists frequently employ the technique when creating certain paintings, gardens, amusement parks and other constructions that feature optical illusions. But we're relatively new at this.

"Bowerbirds have been doing it longer than we have," lead author John Endler told Discovery News. "Good human perspective didn't get started until the 15th century."

Endler, a professor of sensory ecology and evolution at Deakin University, and colleagues Lorna Endler and Natalie Doerr studied great bowerbird bowers in Queensland, Australia.

Each male-made bower consists of an avenue -- two rows of tightly packed sticks with a stick floor -- that opens onto a court. The court functions as a stage where the male displays for females.

The avenue ensures females can only see the court from one viewing angle. Males carefully line their courts with pebbles, bones and shells, such that the absolute size of these objects increases with distance from the avenue entrance and the female viewers.

This design could lead females to "perceive the court as smaller than it is and therefore perhaps perceive the male as larger than he is," according to Endler.

The male then tries to wow the female with his show.

Read more at Discovery News

Nature's Incredible Cover-Up: An Ancient Amazonian Civilization

Spanish adventurer Gaspar de Carvajal wrote of "cities that gleamed white" and "very fruitful land," on his wanderings along the Eucadorian Napo River in 1541. But today there is little evidence of such a civilization. Instead this corner of the Amazon, like the rest of the massive tropical forest, is seemingly inhospitable: full of dense, obstructive vegetation and buzzing with poisonous creepy crawlers.

Is this a case of a Spaniard painting pretty pictures to pocket more money for future conquests, or an example of a perfectly executed cover-up directed by Mother Nature herself?

The Washington Post recently reported on the work of Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo of the University of Florida, who is part of a growing number of anthropologists who believe an ancient, advanced society once occupied Amazonia.

Though Oyuela-Caycedo and others do not necessarily take Carvajal at his word, they do believe that subtle soil disturbances in the Amazon landscape prove the past existence of a complex society -- potentially even the one Carvajal claims he encountered.

Evidence for a past civilization is subtle -- so subtle that it can easily be mistaken for nature. For example, proponents of the ancient Amazon society theory rely heavily on the wide distribution of terra preta sites; pieces of land with fertile soil. Initially, researchers thought terra preta formed from volcanic ash deposits or old swampland.

"But as terra preta was studied more in-depth by scholars from multiple disciplines, it was found to be the result of permanent human occupation of a site, an accumulation of organic matter, low-temperature burning charcoal and ash from fires," Oyuela-Caycedo told Discovery News.

Another line of evidence is the pattern of vegetation in the Amazon. Researchers, "recognized a pattern of clusterings of many fruit trees at archaeological and surrounding areas, which suggest that people have been enriching the forest with desirable species for a long time," Oyuela-Caycedo said. "Now we are beginning to recognize that anomalous concentrations of economic plant species in the forest are most likely due to human actions."

Read more at Discovery News

Optical Illusion of Child Gets Drivers to Brake

I don't know about you, but my heart skips a beat if I see a ball suddenly roll out into the street in front of my car. I'm on the brake as fast as I can.

It's a reaction that the British Columbia Automobile Association Traffic Safety Foundation is hoping lots of people have. In an effort to get speeding drivers to slow down, they're painting an image of a child playing with a ball on the road in a school zone. The image is painted in an elongated manner, so that at the right distance, it appears three-dimensional.

It reminds me of those paintings you see from sidewalk artists who can recreate the edge of a cliff or a stairwell.

From far away, this image looks like a smudge. But as the driver gets closer, the form of a child comes into view. The faster the car, the more suddenly the image will pop up into a three-dimensional view. A nearby sign will read, “You’re probably not expecting kids to run into the road.”

The illusion is being trialed in West Vancouver, Canada, starting September 7, and will be removed after a week of evaluation.

Read more at Discovery News

Sep 8, 2010

Hunchbacked Dinosaur Strengthens Bird-Dino Link

A large new carnivorous dinosaur unearthed in Spain sported a very unusual pointed hump-like structure on its back, muscular legs and evidence for some of the world's first feathers, according to a paper in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

The dinosaur, Concavenator corcovatus, a.k.a. "the hunchbacked hunter from Cuenca," lived 130 million years ago in what is now Cuenca, Spain. Close to 20 feet long, the dinosaur was related to Carcharodontosaurus, an enormous predatory dinosaur that was possibly even longer than Tyrannosaurus rex.

The new dino's "bizarre" hunchback look is a first for dinosaurs.

"One of the unique characteristics of Concavenator, unknown in any other dinosaur yet discovered, is the particular elongation of the last two vertebrae in front of the hip area that project their neural spines on the back of the animal, forming a kind of hump whose function is so far unknown," lead author Francisco Ortega told Discovery News.

Ortega, a researcher in the Biology Group at the National University for Distance Education in Madrid, added that the new dinosaur "holds another surprise."

Like many modern birds, the dinosaur possessed "quill knobs," or small bumps on the forearms that generally hold feathers.

"This feature was also recognized in some small dinosaurs, very closely related to birds, such as Velociraptor," he said. "Surprisingly, Concavenator, four times larger than Velociraptor, and a priori too primitive to have feathers, also has these little bumps."

This likely means the large Spanish dinosaur either had feathers, or some type of skin structure that was "an ancestral stage of the feathers in birds," according to Ortega.

Read more at Discovery News

YouTube stars make big money — but why?

“The top 10 YouTube stars have one thing in common. They’re awful. Just really, really bad. What I mean to say is, they suck. So who the hell is watching them? According to analytics and advertising company TubeMogul, these guys — and one gal —brought in six figures over the last year.

The “how” is fairly obvious. The money comes from banner ads — the revolving advertisements for Tortino Pizza Rolls, “World of Warcraft,” Vitamix blenders, etc., that reload every time you click a video. The more views a video gets, the more money it earns from banner ads — and splits with YouTube parent company Google. To earn the $100,000 to $315,000 that TubeMogul estimates, each YouTube rock star gets watched a whole heck of a lot. But it’s why these YouTube auteurs are raking in six figures that’s annoying.

You won’t see one-hit viral wonders such as “David After Dentist” or “Double Rainbow” in the top 10. The YouTube stars in the Top 10 have a growing body of work and a loyal viewer following that pretty much guarantee repeat viewings. It helps that the majority of the top earners appeal to an adolescent audience, that special demographic that enjoy watching videos over and over ad infinitum if it’s something that strikes their funny bones. Have a look at the list and you’ll get what I mean.

Shane Dawson $315,000…”

Read more at MSNBC

Sep 7, 2010

Is science teaching undermined by religious instruction in faith schools?

“From time to time there are concerns raised that some state-funded religious schools teach creationism, or intelligent design, in their science lessons.

The last Labour government and the Conservatives in opposition have always denied this is a problem and have always said that they will not stand for the teaching of creationism in science lessons. Ministers always say that creationism can’t be taught in science lessons

Whenever this issue cropped up in parliament I was always concerned that the debate was missing the point. It is no good teaching about evolution (which is a scientific fact) in a science lesson at 9am then at 10am, in a religious education lesson, instructing pupils not to believe it.

The whole problem with RE lessons is not that they exist but that they amount to religious instruction in some schools. There is no basis for allowing state-funded schools to indoctrinate their pupils, even if that is what their parents want. They can provide this in optional after-school (or lunchtime) classes or clubs. They could even have something on a Sunday where children are taught to be believers. They could call it Sunday School!

The recognition that RE lessons can be proselytising is reflected in the right that parents have to withdraw their children from these lessons. In contrast, they can’t withdraw their children from biology lessons even if they have profound religious objections to their being taught about sexual reproduction or evolution – these subjects are recognised as non-proselytising.

Secularists like me believe that RE is a valid subject for study in the curriculum but should be about what different religions (and other world views like humanism) believe; it should not be about what ought to be believed. So Catholic schools should be allowed to use RE lessons to teach that the Catholic church opposes contraception and believes that homosexuality is a sin, but not that the children ought to believe those things. The lessons should set out contrasting views on that subject.”

Read more at The Guardian

Sep 6, 2010

Locust brains could thwart superbug plagues

Extracts from the brains of locusts and cockroaches can kill hospital superbugs. Work is under way to identify the active ingredients, which could ultimately result in the first antibiotics originating from insects.

Nine distinct chemical extracts from the locust brain killed Escherichia coli, which can cause food poisoning, and seven killed Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the problematic superbug sweeping hospitals and communities throughout the western world.

Researchers screened brains, along with other tissues, for antibacterial activity on the grounds that the brain is the most vital organ for locusts to protect. "Without [the brain] they die, whereas they can survive losing limbs such as legs," says Simon Lee of the University of Nottingham, UK. "From the locust's point of view, it's important that the central nervous system is protected all the time against bacteria and other pathogens," he says. As he expected, only brain extracts were active.

Read more at New Scientist

9/11 Imprint Persists in American Brains, Bodies

To elicit powerful emotions and vivid memories, all it takes for many Americans is the mention of two numbers -- 9/11.

Nine years later, studies suggest, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, continue to affect the way we think, remember and react to stressful situations. The actual trauma ended long ago, but for many people, measures of brain activity and body chemistry are different than they were before it happened.

While people who were closest to the attacks were probably affected most, the research suggests, the events of September 11 may have shaped the psyche of our nation in ways far more subtle than high-profile cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and other clinical disorders. Scientists are still trying to figure out how to interpret all the data they've collected.

"It makes sense that our experiences would affect our brains and bodies," said Barbara Ganzel, a neuroscientist who studies emotions at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "Now the question is: To what extent? It's something we need to know about so that we can find people who need help."

Plenty of attention has gone to PTSD and other medically classifiable reactions to war, terrorist attacks, and other traumatic events. But what about the people who suffer emotional trauma, yet still manage to cope and move on?

In one of her recent studies on reactions to 9/11, Ganzel and colleagues scanned the brains of people in this resilient group, between three and four years after they had experienced the attacks up close. When those people looked at pictures of emotion-filled faces, the researchers reported in 2008 in the journal NeuroImage, their brains looked different from the brains of people who were further away from the World Trade Center.

In particular, those who were nearby showed strong reactions in their amygdalas, the part of the brain that forms emotional memories. Their reaction to stress was also higher, with bigger spikes in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, the researchers reported in a different paper.

Yet another study, conducted seven years after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, found that survivors there had higher spikes in blood pressure and heart rate when remembering the attack compared to people who knew about it but weren't there. The survivors also had higher resting heart rates.

While it's not yet clear what all these findings mean, Ganzel suspects that physical differences in the bodies and brains of resilient survivors may affect how they respond to emotional events in their everyday lives, even if they never get diagnosed with a mental health disorder. She is currently looking into how well survivors of trauma regulate emotions and make decisions.

"We're not used to thinking about the long-term effects of stress in people who don't have a clinical disorder,” Ganzel said. "This is evidence that this may be indeed occurring. We need to know how, so we know how to help."

Psychiatric epidemiologist Judith Richman happened to be collecting data on the impacts of stress in the workplace in Chicago, when 9/11 happened. With three years of data under her belt, she saw the perfect opportunity to compare the mental health of people both before and after the attacks.

Her results, published in 2008 in the American Journal of Public Health, found that 9/11 continued to affect the mental health of our entire nation for at least four years. In particular, she and colleagues measured higher levels of anxiety and problematic drinking of alcohol in people after the event.

"I think what was particularly salient about 9/11 was that people were affected all over the nation even if they weren't personally affected," said Richman, of the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I'm in Chicago. One of my colleagues at the time said that when it happened, all he could do was stare at the Sears tower. He was expecting any minute that planes were going to crash into it."

Even if you sustain your mental health after an event like 9/11, your memories may be forever altered in unexpected -- and inaccurate ways, suggests the work of Elizabeth Phelps, a neuroscientist at New York University. She and colleagues followed more than 3,000 people in seven cities for up to five years after the attacks, asking them questions about what they remembered from that day.

Read more at Discovery News

Colombian declared world’s shortest man

A 70cm (27-inch) tall Colombian has been named the world’s shortest living man by Guinness World Records. Edward Nino Hernandez, 24, weighs only 10kg (22lbs). His mother said he had not grown since he was two years old. Mr Hernandez, who works part-time as a dancer, told the Associated Press: “I feel happy because I’m unique.”

The previous record holder was He Pingping of China, who was 4cm (1.5 inches) taller and died in March – before Mr Hernandez was discovered. Mr Hernandez is not expected to keep the title for long, however, as Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal is expected to take the title when he turns 18 in October. Khagendra, currently recognised as the world’s shortest living teenager, is only 56cm (22in) tall. The shortest man on record was Gul Mohammed of India, who measured just 57cm – 1cm taller than Khagendra.

Mr Hernandez’s mother, Noemi, said doctors in the Colombian capital, Bogota, never explained why he had grown only 40cm since birth. She said doctors at the National University studied him until he was three and then lost interest. Her youngest child, 11-year-old Miguel Angel, is himself only 93cm (37in) tall. Mr Hernandez left school in the eighth grade and now earns some money dancing at department stores. He is also currently playing the role of a drug dealer in a film. Although he liked the attention, he said there were some drawbacks. “It bothers me that people are always touching me and picking me up.”

Read more at BBC News

Sep 5, 2010

Grandmother passes driving test at 960th attempt

Cha Sa-soon, 69, whose surname coincidentally means "vehicle" in Korean, is now appearing in a prime-time advertisement for Hyundai, Korea's largest carmaker.

For three years beginning in April 2005, she took her driving test once a day, five days a week. After that, her pace slowed, to around twice a week.

"When she finally got her licence, we all went out cheering and hugged her, giving her flowers," said Park Su-yeon, an instructor at Jeonbuk Driving School.

He said that Mrs Cha would not be a danger, since it was on the written part of the test, rather than the practical side, that she had failed so many times.

Read more at The Telegraph

Residents phoned 999 dozens of times over ‘ghost and UFO worries’

“Worried residents phoned 999 to report sightings of ghosts and UFOs, including a man who claimed to have seen the spirit of actor Paul Newman, a force has disclosed. Officers say one emergency call came from a man who rang police claiming to have seen the ghosts of ”two old ladies in a white Fiesta” on a dual carriageway. Other worried calls came from people who spotted ghosts or poltergeists on CCTV cameras and another who said he’d seen a ghost which could ”make me a million quid”. Dozens more calls were also made claiming to have seen aliens including one man reporting that his wife and dog were being abducted by Martians.

More than 150 calls, details of which were released under the Freedom of Information Act, claimed to have seen spooks or UFOs were made to Devon and Cornwall Police over the past 15 years. One caller claimed a spectre gave him a ”horrible hairstyle and some dodgy photos. Ghost is Paul Newman.” In one case in October 2003, the force recorded: ”Caller states he has got a ghost on CCTV. Caller wanted advice on who he could contact as the footage was going to make him a million. Advised to go to the press.” In July 2004 someone from Newton Abbot in Devon reported seeing a ”ghost driver” on the A38. The police log recorded: ”Two old ladies in white Fiesta – come onto the A38B carriageway on the off slip facing the wrong way. Stopped on the hard shoulder, trying to reverse back up the off slip.” A man in Callington, Cornwall, reported his wife and dog being abducted by aliens, while another said he’d seen UFO over a pie factory in Okehampton, Devon.

Other 999 calls were made to report ”a long, white cylinder thing like a train in the sky” and ”orange balls moving slowly upwards and in all different directions”. A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said most of the incidents were logged as ”non attendance” or ”routine” although in some cases officers were forced to respond. ”Our call centre operators take many types of calls and the vast majority are for emergencies or relate to non urgent inquiries of one type or another,” he said. ”There are occasions though when a more unusual call is received. “These are all dealt with professionally by our highly trained staff who access and process them in an appropriate way.” ”

Read more at The Telegraph