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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Brewed This Day: 1st Batch of Coca-Cola

In 1886, the first batch of Coca Cola was brewed over a fire in a backyard in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. John Pemberton had created the concoction as a cure for "hangover," stomach ache and headache. He advertised it as a "brain tonic and intellectual beverage," and first sold it to the public a few weeks later on 8 May. Coke contained cocaine as an ingredient until 1904, when the drug was banned by Congress. link

Only in South America would you get this:

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Born This Day: Surf Board Pioneer

Tom Blake (March 8, 1902 – May 5, 1994) was the American inventor of the hollow-core surfboard. Following his first experimental hollow surfboard in 1926, his innovative, hollow-core surf/paddle boards dominated the surfing world until the late 1940's. It became standard rescue equipment in California's early lifeguard corps.

Early surfboard designs consisted of solid wooden boards dating back to the ancient Hawaiians, these new-concept, lighter boards were an immediate success and became extremely important in the evolution of the modern surfboard. In the 1930's he made the first major design advancement with the invention of fins. Before this, a surfer had to use his back foot to make the board turn. link Images © Rick Griffin

Journey To The Center of The Sinkhole

Cave Carson © DC Comics
Scientists return this week to the world’s deepest known sinkhole, Cenote Zacatón in Mexico, to resume tests of a NASA-funded robot called DEPTHX, designed to survey and explore for life in one of Earth’s most extreme regions and potentially in outer space. Sinking more than 1,000 feet, Zacatón has only been partially mapped and its true depth remains unknown.

The system’s unusual hydrothermal nature is analogous to liquid oceans under the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Technology developed to explore the sinkholes could be applied to future space probes of Europa, where scientists believe that deep cracks and holes in the ice offer a chance of finding extraterrestrial life.

Microbes which appear to be new to science have been discovered floating in deep water and lining rocks in Zacatón. Far below sunlight’s ability to penetrate, they may get their energy from nutrients welling up from hot springs. Gary and others speculate that previously undocumented life may await discovery in the murky depths.

Unique in the world of robotic explorers, DEPTHX is autonomous. The probe does not rely on instructions from humans to decide where to go or what to do. It creates 3D maps of previously unexplored areas as it swims along and then uses those same maps to navigate back to the surface.

Doctoral student Marcus Gary SCUBA dives with the DEPTHX probe during initial in-water tests at The University of Texas at Austin Applied Research Laboratories wet test facility.
Cenote Zacatón first achieved notoriety when two divers attempted to reach the bottom in 1994. One of them, Sheck Exley, died in the attempt. The other, Jim Bowden, survived, descending to a record depth of 925 feet. The outcome caused scientists to rethink ways that Zacatón could be explored safely. link

Journey To The Center Of The Earth (1959)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Watching The Brain See The Future

Scientists can now "read" a person’s intentions from their brain activity. This is made possible by a new combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging and sophisticated computer algorithms. The researchers were able to recognize the subjects intentions with 70% accuracy based alone on their brain activity - even before the participants had seen the numbers and had started to perform the calculation.

Saturn Girl & Superboy © DC Comics
The trick by which the invisible is made visible lies in a new method called "multivariate pattern recognition". A computer is programmed to recognize characteristic activation patterns in the brain that typically occur in association with specific thoughts. Once this computer has been "trained" it can be used to predict the decisions of subjects from their brain activity alone. An important technical innovation also lies in combining information across extended regions of the brain to strongly increase sensitivity.

In the future it will be possible to read even abstract thoughts and intentions out of a person’s brain.

Brain regions from which it was possible to "read out" peoples' intentions. In specific regions fine-grained patterns of brain activity showed slight differences depending on whether a person was preparing to perform an addition or a subtraction. From activity patterns in the green regions it was possible to read out covert intentions before subjects began to perform the calculation. From the regions marked in red it was possible to read out intentions that were already being acted upon.
Ref.: Reading hidden intentions in the human brain. 2007. John-Dylan Haynes, et al. Current Biology, February 20th, 2007 (online: February 8th).

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Empire State Humans

LSH © DC Comics

The Human League.... get tall:

Empire State Human

Since I was very young I've realised
I never wanted to be human size
So I avoid the crowds and traffic jams
They just remind me of how small I am
Because of this longing in my heart
I'm going to start the growing art
I'm going to grow now and never stop
Think like a mountain, grow to the top

Tall, tall, tall, I want to be tall, tall, tall
As big as a wall, wall, wall,
as big as a wall, wall, wall
And if I'm not tall, tall, tall,
then I will crawl, crawl, crawl
Because I'm not tall, tall, tall, tall, tall, tall, tall

With concentration
My size increased
And now I'm fourteen stories high
At least
Empire State Human
Just a bored kid
I'll go to Egypt to be
The pyramids

Brick by brick
Stone by stone:
Growing till he's fully grown
Fetch more water
Fetch more sand
Biggest person in the land

Avengers © Marvel Comics

Avengers © Marvel Comics

Friday, March 2, 2007

UFOs Key To Global Warming

A former Canadian defence minister says be believes advanced technology from extraterrestrial civilizations offers the best hope to "save our planet" from the perils of climate change.

From The Ottawa Citizen:

Paul Hellyer, 83, is calling for a public disclosure of alien technology obtained during alleged UFO crashes -- such as the mysterious 1947 incident in Roswell, New Mexico -- because he believes alien species can provide humanity with a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Mr. Hellyer has been a public UFO advocate since September 2005 when he spoke at a symposium in Toronto. But with concern over global warming at an all-time high, and Canadian political parties struggling to out-green one another, Mr. Hellyer said governments and the military have a responsibility to "come clean on what they know" now more than ever.

"Climate change is the No. 1 problem facing the world today," he said. "I'm not discouraging anyone from being green conscious, but I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation ... that could be a way to save our planet."