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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy 19th Birthday Hubble Telescope.

The Hubble Telescope celebrates it’s 19th year since it’s blast off into space on the shuttle Discovery in 1990.

image of fountain of life trio of galaxies, called Arp 194

http://hubblesite.org/

19 years of producing hundreds of incredible images like the one above. Happy Birthday indeed Hubble.

Hubble’s successor will be the The James Webb Space Telescope (not a very catchy name will we call it James?) is due to be launched in 2013. James will be put into a much higher distant orbit than Hubble and will use infrared allowing detection of the coldest objects and through dense dust clouds.

Hopefully the Hubble telescope will be able to be maintained until 2013 but with the shuttle fleet scheduled for decommissioning in 2010 there is some doubt. Hubble was designed for maintenance by shuttle and although robotic alternative solutions are in development there are no definite plans as yet.

Hubble has been an amazing success and every effort should be made to keep it operational for as long as possible. Every hour Hubble stays in service allows for ever more amazing discoveries.

hubblesite.org has to be the most amazing web site on the internet with hundreds of incredible images available for download. It is a must visit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our Galaxy the Milky Way Actually Tastes of Raspberry (not Milk). Primordial Soup tasted of Raspberry?

 

image of a raspberry floting in space

Ethyl formate, which tastes of raspberries, has been identified in space. Towards the centre source Sagittarius B2 to be precise.

Today at The University of Hertfordshire, which is hosting The European Week of Astronomy & Space Science, R. Garrod Cornell University of Cornell University presented the facinating results of collaborative research between the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, Cornell University, USA, and the University of Cologne, Germany.

It is easy to think of space as a cold lifeless vacuum but evidence from ongoing research is consistently demonstrating how even in the depths of space it is possible for complex organic chemistry to take place.

This latest discovery has identified an ester, ethyl formate (which tastes of raspberries and an alkyl cyanide, n-propyl cyanide (which does NOT taste of raspberries). These are the most complex molecules identified in space to date. In fact these molecule are so complex that they can be seen as a pointer that amino acids, the Holy Grail of this type of research, may be found in space.

This is significant in understanding the origins of life on the Earth. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are often referred to as “the building blocks of life”. If amino acids can be discovered in space then the theory that the building blocks of life originated in space and seeded the earth via the vector of meteorites and comets becomes ever more likely.

Further reading:

Increased complexity in interstellar chemistry:
Detection and chemical modeling of ethyl formate
and n-propyl cyanide in Sgr B2(N)

The European Week of Astronomy & Space Science

http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=/IAU/IAU4_S251/S1743921308021741a.pdf&code=7c6c21355722a11c1339879b90c07d0c

The End Comes for Google Adsense Video Units

Video adsense units have not been performing well and now Google is pulling the plug. It is a shame in a way because they could have worked if the implementation had been better.

As far as polybore could tell they were just a YouTube video unit with a contextual adsense ad on the player. Perhaps if the quality of the videos had been better and the publisher had been paid per video view rather than by click things would have worked out better.

Here is what Google says:

Hello,

We're writing to let you know that we'll be retiring AdSense video units at the end of April. After reviewing this feature, we've found that it hasn't been performing as well as we had hoped, so we've decided to focus our efforts on other opportunities to help publishers monetise their sites.

We recommend that you begin removing the video unit code from your pages as soon as possible, to ensure that you can take advantage of the available ad space on your pages. At the end of April, any remaining Leaderboard or Skyscraper video units will begin directing users to YouTube.com, while other video unit sizes will automatically be changed to standard embedded YouTube players. These standard video players will display top YouTube videos, but you won't generate earnings from them once this change occurs.

If you'd still like to display free video content from YouTube, you can do so through YouTube.com directly: visit any specific video page for the embed code or sign in to your YouTube account to create a playlist. For more information about embedding YouTube videos, please visit http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=57788&hl=en_GB. Alternatively, if you have fewer than three ad units on your page, you may prefer to replace your video unit with a regular ad unit.

Although video units are being retired, other video offerings within AdSense aren't affected. Video ads may still appear on your pages and AdSense for video is still available for eligible publishers. If you'd like more information about the retiring of video units, please visit our Help Centre at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=12182&hl=en_GB.

Thanks for your support of video units in the past, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation.

Yours sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

RIP Adsense video units.

New Fantastic Super Slow Motion Video at 1000FPS HD. When fast equals slow.

 

Produced by the new I-Movix SprintCam v3 HD. Who would have thought that 1000 frames per second could look so good.

http://www.i-movix.com/

The start of the video shows footage shot at the Rugby World Cup. Later in the video, perhaps the most amazing footage in the video can be seen, of a variety of falling and bouncing objects. Incredible.

The new camera is set to be shown off at NAB 2009. NAB is a major media industry event produced by the National Association of Broadcasters. http://www.nabshow.com/2009/eventInfo/about.asp

Conferences are 18-23 April. Exhibits 20-23 April

The I-Movix SprintCam v3 HD is sure to be a hit at NAB 2009 and will probably change how we see the action at televised sports events forever. In fact with this camera there is a lot of previously missed video detail that we will now be able to be amazed by.

The applications that this camera could be used for are countless, from industrial analysis to the study of animal behaviour. We can also look forward to some amazing sequences at the cinema once the camera is taken up by the movie industry. What a great bit of kit.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What is waterboarding? Video demonstration. Analysis of the logistics required for systematic waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Waterboarding is when a prisoner is interrogated by restraining them on a board, a cloth is placed over their face and then water is poured over the cloth.

The wet cloth clings to the persons face and obstructs the prisoners breathing.

The effect of waterboarding is simulated drowning. However the only difference between waterboarding and actual drowning is that water does not enter the prisoners lungs.

This amateur video on YouTube demonstrates how unpleasant it is to be waterboarded. Their first attempt seems innocuous but when they change the type of cloth and increase the quantity of water the effects on the volunteer are evident.

 

 

Memos recently released by Washington detail the use of waterboarding. The New York Times reports that the CIA waterboarded one man 183 time in March 2003.

Although the precise timing of the waterboarding has not been reported it is safe to assume that it would have been systematic. To put that in perspective the man (Khalid Shaikh Mohammed) was probably being waterboarded every 4 hours (six times in 24 hrs) every day for 30 days. The logistics required for this level of interrogation is remarkable and would have required two or even three shifts of CIA operatives and interrogators to maintain the torture schedule.

US Army Field Manual (PDF)

Military Commissions Manual

Combatant Status Review Tribunals

The charges against the accused (US Military tribunals)

BlogCatalog’s malware incident was due to an unethical advertiser.

After ignored email and locked discussion threads finally polybore has a definitive answer as to why Google listed BlogCatalog as unsafe during the malware incident.

Previous posts on this:

The initial incident and polybore’s speculation on the cause:

http://polybore.blogspot.com/2009/03/blogcatalog-gets-hit-by-malware-trojan.html

The request of explaination:

http://polybore.blogspot.com/2009/03/blogcatalog-response-to-their-hosting.html

Well polybore’s email to BC never received an answer however all became clear in an unrelated discussion on BC yesterday.

In reply to a question from codesucker about advertising on BC in a discussion TonyB (BlogCatalog team member) said:

“The ad problem was caused by one unethical advertiser. We now control all the tags and screen ads before they go up unless they come from google.”

You can see it here. Use find on page because it is a long thread.

http://www.blogcatalog.com/discuss/entry/what-sucks-about-blogcatalog

All is finally explained and polybore’s speculation at the time has been vindicated. BC should have been much more open about what had happened in the first instance. What is more if they had taken polybore’s advice on board perhaps they could have avoided the whole incident. The key to effective communication is listening.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trivia 40 Stevens Point Wisconsin World’s Largest Trivia Contest or Worlds Largest Mass Google Search Contest? Cheating on huge scale!

If you are looking for who won the quiz you can find out here.

logo

Unusual Google Search terms trends.

Some weird search terms were topping the Google trends chart today. http://www.google.com/trends

The plot thickens.

Even more odd was that up to 70% of the searches were being made from a very small geographical area. Namely Stevens Point, Wisconsin http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&tab=wl and Appleton, Wisconsin http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

The evidence trail is hot.

Three examples:

Search term “without the coupon it s called shoplifting”

Cheats 1 cut Click image to enlarge.

Search term “twisty teasers”

cheats 2 cut Click image to enlarge.

Search term “felix unger”

cheats 3 Click image to enlarge.

The final act.

Well it turns out that little Stevens Point is, just now, hosting it’s 40th Annual World's Largest Trivia contest, Trivia 40 http://www.90fmtrivia.org/ The trivia contest has a theme which changes each year, this time it is a Humphrey Bogart theme.

Stevens Point normally has a population of 24,000 people. But during the contest the population swells by up to 50%. This year the contest has 450 teams with about 12,000 players many having travelled from afar to take part. http://wcco.com/local/trivia.humphrey.bogart.2.983015.html

It is obvious that very many of these players has made sure that they have access to the internet and in particular Google. Naughty, naughty. Busted.

Here is looking at you Google!

Polybore suggests they change the image on their homepage to:

looking at you