Archive | March 6, 2014

NASA Plans Mission to Europa

PIC: NASA (PD)

PIC: NASA (PD)

NASA plans on sending an unmanned vehicle to search for life in the oceans of Europa, Jupiter’s sixth-closest moon. The exciting news was practically buried in a press release regarding agency funding. The communique also mentions the agency’s intention to develop technologies for an “asteroid redirect program” that will lead to a manned mission to Mars.

Clearly NASA doesn’t remember the Monolith’s warning from 2001: A Space Odyssey:  “All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there.

Via NASA:

“This budget ensures that the United States will remain the world’s leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come. The budget supports the administration’s commitment that NASA be a catalyst for the growth of a vibrant American commercial space industry, and keeps us on target to launch American astronauts from right here in the USA by 2017, ending our reliance on others to get into space and freeing us up to carry out even more ambitious missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

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Hop Leaves Discarded in Brewing Process Could Fight Dental Disease

Pic: Dr. Hagen Graebner (CC)

Pic: Dr. Hagen Graebner (CC)

Another natural cure for a common ailment. Take note, though, beer drinkers: It’s the part of the leaves discarded in the brewing process.

Via Eureka Alert:

Beer drinkers know that hops are what gives the drink its bitterness and aroma. Recently, scientists reported that the part of hops that isn’t used for making beer contains healthful antioxidants and could be used to battle cavities and gum disease. In a new study in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they say that they’ve identified some of the substances that could be responsible for these healthful effects.

Yoshihisa Tanaka and colleagues note that their earlier research found that antioxidant polyphenols, contained in the hop leaves (called bracts) could help fight cavities and gum disease. Extracts from bracts stopped the bacteria responsible for these dental conditions from being able to stick to surfaces and prevented the release of some bacterial toxins.

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Melting Glaciers Revealing Frozen Corpses of World War I Soldiers

Pic: Museo della Grande Guerra, Peio (C)

Pic: Museo della Grande Guerra, Peio (C)

The slowly-melting glaciers of the Italian Alps are yielding up a gruesome find: The once-frozen corpses of World War I soldiers.

Via The Telegraph:

The bodies, when they came, were often mummified. The two soldiers interred last September were blond, blue-eyed Austrians aged 17 and 18 years old, who died on the Presena glacier and were buried by their comrades, top-to-toe, in a crevasse. Both had bulletholes in their skulls. One still had a spoon tucked into his puttees — common practice among soldiers who travelled from trench to trench and ate out of communal pots. When Franco Nicolis of the Archaeological Heritage Office in the provincial capital, Trento, saw them, he says, his first thought was for their mothers. ‘They feel contemporary. They come out of the ice just as they went in,’ he says. In all likelihood the soldiers’ mothers never discovered their sons’ fate.

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28 Year-Old Bitcoin Exchange CEO Found Dead in Singapore

BitcoinThey’re saying it might be a suicide. There’s been a lot of theft, hacking and bad press aimed at Bitcoin lately. Now this. Make you wonder…

Via Raw Story:

The 28-year-old American boss of a Bitcoin exchange has been found dead at the base of a Singapore apartment block, police and reports said Thursday, in the latest misfortune linked with the troubled virtual currency.

Singapore police said they were investigating the “unnatural” death of Autumn Radtke, chief executive of Singapore-based First Meta, on February 26, but that no foul play was suspected.

A local technology website first reported she may have committed suicide, but later updated its report to say it was “unclear” how she died.

Broadcaster Channel NewsAsia said on its website Thursday that Radtke “was found dead at the bottom of an apartment block”.

Her death comes as the virtual currency community is in turmoil after the collapse of Tokyo-based MtGox, one of the longest-established Bitcoin exchanges, due to a suspected theft worth nearly half a billion dollars.

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Are LA Gangbangers Fighting in Syria?

Via CNN:

Two men claiming to be Los Angeles-area gang members have posted a video showing them firing rifles in Syria’s civil war, apparently fighting on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

In the profanity-laced video, the two men fire rifles from behind a cinder-block wall at “enemigos” — enemies — though the camera never shows an enemy in the distance. The two men often refer to “gang-banging” and their “homies,” and one of them displays gang hand gestures and tattoos.

Read the rest at CNN.

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See Otter Kill And Eats Alligator in Amazing Series of Photos

Pic: US Fish & Wildlife/Geoff Walsh (PD)

Pic: US Fish & Wildlife/Geoff Walsh (PD)

Otters are cute and cuddly (and I’ll be damned if they can’t play a mean washtub bass), but they’re also voracious predators who use ambush hunting tactics to take down everything from fish to small birds… and apparently that includes alligators, too. Check out this amazing picture of an otter attacking and eating an alligator, and then see the rest at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

 

 

 

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Artist Introduces New ‘Average’ Doll As Healthy Alternative to Barbie

Hey kids! Meet Lammily, the doll with the reasonably realistic body of a 19 year-old American woman! Lammily is the creation of artist Nickolay Lamm, who hopes to raise enough money for his dolls to go into mass production as a competitor to the freakishly proportioned Barbie. I’ll be the first to tell you that I know absolutely nothing about what it’s like to be a young girl, but as a young boy I always played with toys that were representative of anything but average people. I have zero problem with the “average” doll, but when I played with action figures it was about fantasy: Superheroes, GI Joes, Star Wars characters, monsters, and more. That being said, I’ll happily accept that men don’t suffer from the same kinds of body issues that women do, so it’s probably comparing apples and oranges.

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Bhutan has Embraced the Phallus for Centuries

Tiny Bhutan is the world’s perennial leader in Gross National Happiness. Nestled high in the Himalayas and home to a population of three-quarters of a million people, the GNH is Bhutan’s answer to the outside world’s obsession with acquiring and measuring wealth. Forget about increasing the Gross National Product, they want to increase happiness. And every year, Bhutan is near the top of the list of happy countries. The question is…why? Is it Buddhist spirituality? Is it a rejection of Western materialism? Is it a function of their geography and isolation? Or is it penis power?

Religion News Service reports on the special relationship between the people of Bhutan and the phallus, which is ubiquitous in Bhutanese life:

A phallic painting on a building in Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan. Photo by Tara Limbu

A phallic painting on a building in Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan. Photo by Tara Limbu

For centuries, Buddhists in this tiny landlocked Himalayan kingdom have had a special devotion to the most unusual of objects: the phallus.

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What Was Peer Pressure?

666girlsRemember “peer pressure”? Of late it has been largely discarded as the go-to means of explaining/demonizing youth behavioral patterns, but The New Inquiry offers a look back:

Parents have mostly given up on peer pressure as a paradigm defining element of molding their teenagers. Adults now do not believe in peer pressure so much as media pressure (“Miley Cyrus made my daughter a pot-smoking slut” instead of “Peer pressure made my daughter a pot-smoking slut”) or technological pressure (“My son doesn’t get any sleep because he stays up all night texting his friends”), fully embracing the awful politics of moral panics that dominated generational relations for the entire second half of the 20th century.

But what parents and educators so often labeled as peer pressure was actually the disease-like spread of ideas. It’s a degree of symbolic freedom and movement that made adults uncomfortable. The truly horrible things that happen to teenage lives are more the result of socioeconomic reality (gang violence), the failure of the mental health state (drugs, alcohol, shooting up the school), the horrific patriarchy of larger adult society (rape), or the all-around idiotic idea of the “school” as we construct it than they ever are the sole province of a teens en masse fearing social rejection.

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