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Monday, August 10, 2009

Auerworld Palace: Auerstedt, Germany

Auerworld Palace | Auerstedt, Germany | Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura writes:

Weaving live saplings together to form a kind of domed cathedral space, architect Marcel Kalberer and his group Sanfte Strukturen are re-envisioning the way living building materials and techniques can be used to design modern spaces. Constructed in 1998, the Auerworld Palace in Aeurstedt, Germany was their first "willow palace' project, taking the efforts of 300 volunteers to build. The palace is just 10 years old - the techniques, however, are ancient. The Sumerian reed houses of Mesopotamia were famous for their construction of tightly bound reeds, and in Europe smaller outbuildings have been made of woven plants and trees for hundreds of years. Most of these are built from green branches, though. In this case the whole tree is woven into place to form a living structure.
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Loteria: A Mexican Game of Chance

accidental mysteries: Lotería - Mexican Game of Chance

Accidental Mysteries writes:

LOTERIA IS A MEXICAN GAME OF CHANCE THAT DATES AS FAR BACK AS THE 15TH CENTURY. Actual vintage cards are highly collectible, but this framed set of three is pretty spectacular. This set dates to around 1900, and what I like here is the authenticity of the framed set. These cards, representing exotic places and things, were most likely framed for the simple visual beauty they brought to a home. These were found via 1stdibs.

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RIP Marcey Jacobson, Photographer

Marcey Jacobson, Photographer of Mexican Indians, Dies at 97 - Obituary (Obit) -

photo by Marcey Jacobson

Marcey Jacobson, a self-taught photographer from New York City who spent decades in the southern Mexican highlands documenting the lives of the indigenous Indian peoples, died on July 26 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico, in the state of Chiapas. She was 97.

The cause was heart failure, said a friend, Janet Schwartz.

Ms. Jacobson was eking out a living in New York City doing mechanical drafting when she first visited San Cristóbal in 1956, intending only a short stay. Instead she found a place she called “the solution to everything,” and, with her companion, Janet Marren, a painter, settled there for the rest of her life.

She took up photography with a borrowed Rolleiflex camera. Patiently exploring the colorful city, the central marketplace for the Mayan-speaking Indian villages of the region, she won the trust of the often camera-shy locals and taught herself the craft of making black-and-white pictures from what she saw in its cobblestone streets and muddy byways, in its dramatic landscapes and weather events, and perhaps most of all, in the faces of the inhabitants. Her portraits were haunting.

“She had to read how-to-do books on developing and ask Americans to bring paper and chemicals when they came this way to visit,” Ms. Schwartz wrote in an e-mail message on Wednesday.

The results, about 14,000 negatives produced mostly from the 1960s to the 1980s, describe the local daily life, its mercantile, religious and familial rites, in sensitive detail. They are destined for the Na Bolom Museum in San Cristóbal, Ms. Schwartz said.

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David Byrne Turns Building Into Steampunk Instrument

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Arts & Culture | Byrne makes Roundhouse walls sing
A cacophony of clangs, hums and whistles resonate around London's iconic music venue Roundhouse.

But this time it's the building itself - not the bands that have played its hallowed hall - taking centre stage.

The building has been transformed into a giant steampunk musical instrument by Talking Heads founder David Byrne.

An old pump organ in the centre of the circular hall is linked to the Roundhouse's metal beams, cast iron pillars and plumping pipes, via a sprawling mass of cables.

Visitors can "play" the building by pressing the keyboard to make tuneful sounds and vibrations.

But it's hardly music to one's ears.

Byrne, who was in London to launch the installation, compared the air rushing through pipes as a sound akin to that of a flute, but admitted: "You can't play Bach."

"It kind of levels the playing field as far as performance goes. We are all equally amateur at it," he added.

"The piano lessons you got as a child are not going to be of too much use."

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Hotel Invites Artists to Stay, Pay with Works of Art (Damn, Poets Not Included)

Room service: Berlin hotel tells artists to pay for stay with artwork, not cash | Art and design | The Guardian
A five-star hotel in Berlin has opened its doors to cash-strapped artists, asking them to pay for bed and board not with money but with a work of art.

The offer from the Hotel Marienbad in Auguststrasse is open to painters, sculptors or conceptual artists willing to "subject the hotel to permanent change" with their efforts.

Susanne Pfeffer, curator of the Kunst-Werke Institute of Contemporary Art, which set up the project, said: "As long as they come from outside Berlin and need a bed for the night, everyone is welcome, though we've got such a long waiting list that we are very careful about picking and choosing our guests."

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Archive of 100 Horror Film Posters

White House Health Insurance Reform Reality Check Website

Paddles Don't Hurt Children: Dumb Bullies With Paddles Hurt Children

Disabled Students Are Spanked More -
Among the cases cited in the report was that of a 6-year-old, first-grade boy with autism, who was paddled at his Mississippi elementary school. An assistant principal who the report described as weighing 300 pounds “picked up an inch-thick paddle and paddled him” on the buttocks, the report said.

*Editorial comment: I grew up in Mississippi. I do not suffer from autism, but I remember that 300 pound assistant principal (or his exact equivalent). He was a thick-headed power-mongering coward who enjoyed hitting children with a paddle. This is a profoundly obvious instance of a crying need for consistent regulation, which means a federal law. --TRH*

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Phantosmia: Odor Illusions

Cases - A Pungent Life - The Smells in My Head -
Jane G. Andrews writes:

I discover that I suffer from phantosmia. “Osmia,” from the Greek osme, means “smell.” Coupled with “phanto” (like “phantom”), it refers to an illusory sense of smell. I smell a smell when no odorant is present.

Inevitably, medical tests followed. I had an M.R.I. of my brain (ruling out a tumor), then a CT scan of my sinuses (looking for infection), and finally, an EEG (olfactory hallucinations do occur in epilepsy). The results were negative, and two rounds of antibiotics (was there a hidden nasal or sinus infection?) constituted my only — and fruitless — treatment.

One day a year later I realized that the earthly smell was finally gone. But to my dismay a new smell immediately took over. My husband had burned a big pot of chili. Burned chili became my new default odor. At least it smelled better than dirt.

Then, about seven years ago, a trip to Provence erased the chili. Lavender wafted in the air, becoming my new smell du jour. Southern France’s lavender-infested landscape — dried bouquets, scented soaps and candles, even flavorings for food — trailed me back home. Some might think me lucky — lavender is hugely popular. But I hated this smell that had squirmed its way into my brain.

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Lenin Kills Belarussian Hanger-On

Lenin statue collapses, kills man in Belarus - Yahoo! News
Belarusian officials says that a massive statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin collapsed on a man who was hanging from it, killing him on the spot.

The Emergency Situations ministry said Monday that the 21-year-old man was drunk when he climbed onto the five-meter (16-feet)-high plaster monument early Monday and hung from its arm. It then broke into pieces and he was crushed.

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REM vs. Non-REM Sleep, Dreams

REM Dreams and Non-REM dreams are very different from each other in a few major ways. The first difference between the two is Non-REM dreams consist of brief, fragmentary impressions. They are also less likely to involve visual images compared to REM sleep, and are more frequently forgotten. Non-REM dreams are like thinking about something during the day for a brief period of time while REM dreams are comparable to thinking deeply about something. REM sleep consists of about two hours a night while Non-REM sleep lasts about four to six hours.

Does the Type of Sleep we Receive change with Age?

According to the chart above it does. You receive more and more Non-REM sleep the older you get. You also sleep less and less the older you get. This information and chart was gathered from The Rock Hill School District Three Internet Site.

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Resistance is Futile: Facebook Buys FriendFeed

FriendFeed Updates Status: Married to Facebook - Bits Blog -
FriendFeed, a social media tracker, created in 2007 by a gang of ex-Googlers, has been acquired by Facebook for an undisclosed amount.

“Since I first tried FriendFeed, I’ve admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive, in a news release. “As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use.”

FriendFeed works like an RSS reader for social media content, pulling in and publishing feeds from more than 60 Web sites, including Twitter, Flickr and YouTube for easy skimming.

It’s a logical fit for Facebook, which has slowly been shifting its focus to becoming more of a real-time social broadcasting service.

But the bigger win for Facebook may be the technical talent that comes with the deal: FriendFeed’s founders were involved in the creation of Google’s Gmail service.

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Cassini On Time to Study Saturn's Equinox--First Since 1994

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Equinox to reveal Saturn secrets
Planetary scientists are keenly observing an equinox on Saturn on 11 August, in a bid to learn more about the gas giant's ring system.

A planet's equinox comes twice a year when the Sun crosses its equator, making day and night the same length.

It takes Saturn nearly 30 Earth years to orbit the Sun, so this is the first equinox since 1994.

At equinox, the Sun is high over the rings, so irregularities show as long shadows on the otherwise flat surface.

Objects such as "moonlets" - very small natural satellites, which are often difficult to spot - become easy to detect.

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Taxonomy 2: The Death of Adam

Reviving the Lost Art of Naming the World -

Carol Kaesuk Yoon writes:
Today few people are proficient in the ordering and naming of life. There are the dwindling professional taxonomists, and fast-declining peoples like the Tzeltal Maya of Mexico, among whom a 2-year-old can name more than 30 different plants and whose 4-year-olds can recognize nearly 100. Things were different once. In Linnaeus’s day, it was a matter of aristocratic pride to have a wonderful and wonderfully curated collection of wild organisms, both dead and alive. Darwin (who gained fame first as the world’s foremost barnacle taxonomist) might have expected any dinner-party conversation to turn taxonomic, after an afternoon of beetle-hunting or wildflower study. Most of us claim and enjoy no such expertise.

We are, all of us, abandoning taxonomy, the ordering and naming of life. We are willfully becoming poor J.B.R., losing the ability to order and name and therefore losing a connection to and a place in the living world.

No wonder so few of us can really see what is out there. Even when scads of insistent wildlife appear with a flourish right in front of us, and there is such life always — hawks migrating over the parking lot, great colorful moths banging up against the window at night — we barely seem to notice. We are so disconnected from the living world that we can live in the midst of a mass extinction, of the rapid invasion everywhere of new and noxious species, entirely unaware that anything is happening. Happily, changing all this turns out to be easy. Just find an organism, any organism, small, large, gaudy, subtle — anywhere, and they are everywhere — and get a sense of it, its shape, color, size, feel, smell, sound. Give a nod to Professor Franclemont and meditate, luxuriate in its beetle-ness, its daffodility. Then find a name for it. Learn science’s name, one of countless folk names, or make up your own. To do so is to change everything, including yourself. Because once you start noticing organisms, once you have a name for particular beasts, birds and flowers, you can’t help seeing life and the order in it, just where it has always been, all around you

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Meta-Classifying: Recognizing the Ordered Existence of Folk Taxonomy

Reviving the Lost Art of Naming the World -
Carol Kaesuk Yoon writes:

Anthropologists were the first to recognize that taxonomy might be more than the science officially founded by Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, in the 1700s. Studying how nonscientists order and name life, creating what are called folk taxonomies, anthropologists began to realize that when people across the globe were creating ordered groups and giving names to what lived around them, they followed highly stereotyped patterns, appearing unconsciously to follow a set of unwritten rules. Not that conformity to rules was at first obvious to anthropologists who were instead understandably dazzled by the variety in folk taxonomies. The Ilongots, for example, a people of the Philippines, name gorgeous wild orchids after human body parts. There bloom the thighs, there fingernails, yonder elbows and thumbs. The Rofaifo people of New Guinea, excellent natural historians, classify the cassowary, a giant bird complete with requisite feathers and beak, as a mammal. In fact, there seemed, at first glance, to be little room even for agreement among people, let alone a set of universally followed rules. More recently, however, deep underlying similarities have begun to become apparent.

Cecil Brown, an anthropologist at Northern Illinois University who has studied folk taxonomies in 188 languages, has found that people recognize the same basic categories repeatedly, including fish, birds, snakes, mammals, “wugs” (meaning worms and insects, or what we might call creepy-crawlies), trees, vines, herbs and bushes.

Dr. Brown’s finding would be considerably less interesting if these categories were clear-cut depictions of reality that must inevitably be recognized. But tree and bush are hardly that, since there is no way to define a tree versus a bush. The two categories grade insensibly into one another. Wugs, likewise, are neither an evolutionarily nor ecologically nor otherwise cohesive group. Still, people repeatedly recognize and name these oddities.

Likewise, people consistently use two-word epithets to designate specific organisms within a larger group of organisms, despite there being an infinitude of potentially more logical methods. It is so familiar that it is hard to notice. In English, among the oaks, we distinguish the pin oak, among bears, grizzly bears. When Mayan Indians, familiar with the wild piglike creature known as peccaries, encountered Spaniards’ pigs, they dubbed them “village peccaries.” We use two-part names for ourselves as well: Sally Smith or Li Wen. Even scientists are bound by this practice, insisting on Latin binomials for species.

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Dept. of "Sir, I Did Not Know That": Not All Dreams Occur in REM Sleep

10 Mysteries of you: Dreams - 05 August 2009 - New Scientist
Emma Young writes:

It has recently become apparent that not all dreaming occurs in REM sleep, and there are hints that non-REM dreams have their own special function. By waking students during both REM and non-REM sleep, McNamara and colleagues have discovered that REM dreams are more story-like, with more emotion, more aggression and more unknown characters than non-REM dreams, which often involve friendly social interactions (Psychological Science, vol 16, p 130). McNamara thinks that by simulating aggressive encounters, REM dreams help us cope with real aggression, whereas non-REM dreams support cooperative behaviour.

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Recession Brings Women Close to Majority in Work Force

The Mancession - Economix Blog -
We’ve pointed out before that that recession has disproportionately hurt men, who are more likely to work in cyclically sensitive industries like manufacturing and construction. Women, on the other hand, are overrepresented in more downturn-resistant sectors like education and health care.

Casey B. Mulligan noted, for example, that for the first time in American history women are coming close to representing the majority of the national work force. It would of course be a bittersweet milestone, given that it comes primarily as a result of men’s layoffs.

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Meir Samel, Photographer: Prostitute on Highway 1

Prostitute On Highway 1 -1996: Photo by Photographer Meir Samel -

Prostitute On Highway 1 -1996
By: Meir Samel | View Full Portfolio (650 images)

Tags: -1996 1 highway hollywood nikon 52mm uv nikon af 50mm f18 nikon f4s prostitute
Equipment: Nikon F4S, Nikon 52mm UV, Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8

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Libya: Somali Prisoners "Murdered" by Prison Guards Libya: Prison Guards Kill More Than 20 Somalis, Injure 50 Others (Page 1 of 1)
More than 20 Somali prisoners have been killed and 50 others were seriously injured after Libyan prison guards deliberately opened fire to the jailed Somalis in Banghazi town, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Monday.

Reports say that the Libyan guarding forces of the prison had opened fire to the jailed Somalis in Banghazi prison in Banghazi town in Libya after the Somalis tried to escape from the jail killing more than 20, wounding 50 others who were all in the custody.

The Libyan forces also used knifes and other materials for murdering the Somali prisoners there as Abdinasir Mowlid, one of the Somali youth and prisoner who was in the area where accident happened told Shabelle radio by the telephone.

Mr. Abdinasir also said that the Libyan troops also used electricity for the remained Somali prisoners in the jail to execute committing brutal actions that had never been seen anymore.

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Mass Transit: What the New York Subway System Really Does

[F]rom 8:00AM to 8:59 AM on an average Fall day in 2007 the NYC Subway carried 388,802 passengers into the CBD on 370 trains over 22 tracks. In other words, a train carrying 1,050 people crossed into the CBD every 6 seconds. Breathtaking if you ask me.

Over this same period, the average number of passengers in a vehicle crossing any of the East River crossings was 1.20. This means that, lacking the subway, we would need to move 324,000 additional vehicles into the CBD (never mind where they would all park). . . .

At best, it would take 167 inbound lanes, or 84 copies of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, to carry what the NYC Subway carries over 22 inbound tracks through 12 tunnels and 2 (partial) bridges. At worst, 200 new copies of 5th Avenue. Somewhere in the middle would be 67 West Side Highways or 76 Brooklyn Bridges. And this neglects the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, NJ Transit, and PATH systems entirely.

Of course, at 325 square feet per parking space, all these cars would need over 3.8 square miles of space to park, about 3 times the size of Central Park. At that point, who would want to go to Manhattan anyway?

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And a Get Out of Jail Free Card Will Bankrupt You: The Cost Of "Free" Parking

Parking really isn't free
Jason Kottke writes:

Parking is heavily subsidized in the US; spaces in cities can cost between $10,000 and $50,000, a high price to pay to house hunks of metal that don't do anything for 95% of the day.

Who pays for this? Everyone. The cost of building all that parking is reflected in higher rents, more expensive shopping and dining, and higher costs of home-ownership. Those who don't drive or own cars thus subsidize those who do.

The argument comes from a book called The High Cost of Free Parking.

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Universe in a Pitcher Plant: Ecological Microcosms

In the Bowels of Carnivorous Plants, a Tiny Model of the World | Wired Science |
For insight into fabulously complex ecological dynamics, Harvard University biologist Aaron Ellison peers into the cupped leaves of carnivorous pitcher plants.

At the bottom of each slippery-sided leaf is a pool of water into which unlucky insects fall and drown. The bugs sustain not only the plant, but an intricate food web of bacteria, plankton and invertebrates. Each pool is small enough to fit in a shot glass, and big enough to model the world.

“Each leaf is its own individual lake, its own individual ecosystem. Suddenly, in a bog I can walk to from my office, I’ve got 50,000 lakes to do experiments on. This is an opportunity to understand how a complete, functioning natural ecosystem works,” said Ellison.

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Non-Carbon-Based, and Extra-Planetary, Life Forms a Possibility

"The Black Cloud" - Could Non-Carbon Life Exist in Cold Clouds of Interstellar Dust?
[P]hysicists have discovered over the last few years intriguing evidence of life-like double-helix structures formed from inorganic substances in space which raises the question of whether extraterrestrial life could be composed of corkscrew-shaped formations of interstellar dust. The findings hint at the possibility that life beyond Earth may not necessarily use carbon-based molecules as its building blocks and they may also point to a possible new explanation for the origin of life on Earth.

The international team has discovered that under the right conditions, particles of inorganic dust can become organized into helical structures. These structures can then interact with each other in ways that are more usually associated with organic compounds and life itself.

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Methane Indicates Something Passing Gas: What's Happening on Mars?

Mars, methane and mysteries
Mars may not be as dormant as scientists once thought. The 2004 discovery of methane means that either there is life on Mars, or that volcanic activity continues to generate heat below the martian surface. ESA plans to find out which it is. Either outcome is big news for a planet once thought to be biologically and geologically inactive.

The methane mystery started soon after December 2003, when ESA's Mars Express arrived in orbit around the red planet. As the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) began taking data, Vittorio Formisano, Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario CNR, Rome, and the rest of the instrument team saw a puzzling signal. As well as the atmospheric gases they were anticipating, such as carbon monoxide and water vapour, they also saw methane.

"Methane was a surprise, we were not expecting that," says Agustin Chicarro, ESA Mars Lead Scientist. The reason is that on Earth much of the methane in our atmosphere is released by evolved life forms, such as cattle digesting food. While there are ways to produce methane without life, such as by volcanic activity, it is the possible biological route that has focused attention on the discovery.

The Mars Express detection of methane is not an isolated case. While the spacecraft was en route, two independent teams of astronomers using ground-based telescopes started to see traces of methane. After five years of intensive study, the suite of observations all confirmed the discovery and presented planetary scientists with a big puzzle.

Methane is thought to be stable in the martian atmosphere for around 300 years. So, whatever is generating the methane up there, it is a recent occurrence. In January 2009, a team led by Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center published results that the methane they saw in 2003 was concentrated in three regions of the planet. This showed that the methane was being released at the present time and was being observed before it had time to distribute itself around the planet.

Things then took a strange turn. Instead of taking 300 years to disappear, the methane had almost entirely vanished by early 2006. Clearly something unusual is going on at Mars. "We thought we understood how methane behaved on Mars but if the measurements are correct then we must be missing something big," says Franck Lefèvre, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, CNRS, Paris and a member of Mars Express's SPICAM instrument team.

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Neo-Assyrians Renovated the Neo-Hittites: Ancient Cuneiform Tablets Discovered in Turkey

University of Toronto archaeologists find cache of tablets in 2,700-year old Turkish temple
Excavations led by a University of Toronto archaeologist at the site of a recently discovered temple in southeastern Turkey have uncovered a cache of cuneiform tablets dating back to the Iron Age period between 1200 and 600 BCE. Found in the temple's cella, or 'holy of holies', the tablets are part of a possible archive that may provide insights into Assyrian imperial aspirations.

"The assemblage appears to represent a Neo-Assyrian renovation of an older Neo-Hittite temple complex, providing a rare glimpse into the religious dimension of Assyrian imperial ideology," says Timothy Harrison, professor of near eastern archaeology in the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations and director of U of T's Tayinat Archaeological Project (TAP). "The tablets, and the information they contain, may possibly highlight the imperial ambitions of one of the great powers of the ancient world, and its lasting influence on the political culture of the Middle East." The cella also contained gold, bronze and iron implements, libation vessels and ornately decorated ritual objects.

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Hungry Heart: Role of the Universe's Earliest Black Holes

First black holes born starving
The first black holes in the universe had dramatic effects on their surroundings despite the fact that they were small and grew very slowly, according to recent supercomputer simulations carried out by astrophysicists Marcelo Alvarez and Tom Abel of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, jointly located at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, and John Wise, formerly of KIPAC and now of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Several popular theories posit that the first black holes gorged themselves on gas clouds and dust in the early universe, growing into the supersized black holes that lurk in the centers of galaxies today. However, the new results, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, point to a much more complex role for the first black holes.

"I'm thrilled that we now can do calculations that start to capture the most relevant physics, and we can show which ideas work and which don't," said Abel. "In the next decade, using calculations like this one, we will settle some of the most important issues related to the role of black holes in the universe."

To make their discovery, the researchers created the most detailed simulations to date of the first black holes in the universe that formed from the collapse of stars. The simulations started with data taken from observations of the cosmic background radiation—the earliest view of the structure of the universe. The researchers then applied the basic laws that govern the interaction of matter, allowing the early universe in their simulation to evolve as it did in reality.

In the simulation, clouds of gas left over from the Big Bang slowly coalesced under the force of gravity, and eventually formed the first stars. These massive, hot stars burned bright for a short time, emitting so much energy in the form of starlight that they pushed nearby gas clouds far away. Yet these stars could not sustain such a fiery existence for long, and they soon exhausted their internal fuel. This caused one of the stars in the simulation to collapse under its own weight, forming a black hole located in a pocket of emptiness. With very little matter in the near vicinity, this black hole was essentially "starved" of food on which to grow.

"Quasars [extremely strong sources of radiation] powered by black holes a billion times more massive than our sun have been observed in the early universe, and we have to explain how these behemoths could have grown so big so fast," said Alvarez. "Their origin remains among the most fundamental unanswered questions in astrophysics."

One explanation for the existence of supermassive black holes in the early universe postulates that the first black holes were 'seeds' that grew into much larger black holes by gravitationally attracting and then swallowing matter. But in their simulation, Alvarez, Abel and Wise found that such growth was negligible, with the black hole in the simulation growing by less than one percent of its original mass over the course of a hundred million years.

Although the simulations do not yet completely rule out the theory, this makes it less likely that these first black holes could have grown directly into the supermassive black holes observed to have existed less than a billion years later, Alvarez said.

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Uganda: Unexplained Brain Disease Strikes Children Uganda: Nodding Disease Or 'River Epilepsy'? (Page 1 of 1)
A rare and unexplained brain disease has affected hundreds of Ugandan children, health workers say.

The "nodding disease" causes seizures, and affected children become physically and mentally stunted, which can lead to blindness and even death.

"Nodding disease" is not unknown to medical science, but the best-known concentration of cases had previously been reported from southern Sudan. A medical NGO in the Mundri area of western Equatoria had reported an estimated 300 cases around 2003.

Northern Uganda's Kitgum disctrict, an area recovering from two decades of civil war, appears a new epicentre of the disease.

Local leaders Obonyo Yokoyedo told IRIN that 200 children in his village of Okidi alone had the illness. "We have lost three girls... one drowned in a well during a seizure; the other two went several weeks without eating," he said.

Janet Oola, Kitgum health officer, said hundreds of children had presented symptoms of the "nodding disease" in the district in 2008. "It is an early stage of epilepsy," she added.

A likely cause of the disease is a neurological effect of the parasitic worm that causes Onchocerciasis (river blindness). Recently published medical research supports a link and doctors who have studied nodding in the field say the two are connected.

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Chaos Science, Strange Attractors: In Malaysia, Gay Sex = Swine Flu

The Raw Story » Gay sex can lead to swine flu, Malaysian media says
Malaysia's state-run news agency is urging its readers to avoid homosexual sex and masturbation if they want to remain free of swine flu.

An article published Sunday by Bernama, the Malaysian government news agency, singles out homosexual sex as an activity that can cause people to contract swine flu, while also emphasizing that "normal sexual union between members of the opposite sex was absolutely safe."

Quoting a Dr. V. M. Palaniappan, the article states that homosexual sex "caused the body to develop friction heat which in turn, produced acid and made the body hyperacidised."

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Taliban Feud Over Treasury

After Baitullah, battle on for Taliban treasure
A bloody feud that followed Baitullah Mehsud’s death involving about three-dozen best-trained Taliban fighters early on Wednesday morning was actually a battle among various Taliban warlords to control Rs 2 billion Taliban funds and ownership of arms and ammunition worth about Rs 1 billion by grabbing the ‘Emarat’ (the leadership) of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to senior security officials and knowledgeable Taliban sources.

Such was the charisma and awe of 35-year-old, five feet two inches tall Baitullah Mehsud that none of his associates ever dared to challenge his leadership till an American missile strike blew his body apart on the first floor of the house of his second wife in South Waziristan last week.

An intelligence official said: “For about four years, some 3,500 trained fighters and dozens of suicide bombers blindly followed Baitullah as he was the centre of gravity of terrorism in Pakistan.” The battle for the control of the Rs 3 billion Taliban treasure erupted within two days of Baitullah’s death, when two of his most trusted lieutenants, Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman, claimed succession in an emergency meeting in Sararogha, where an armed clash left Hakimullah Mehsud dead, along with 40 Taliban fighters, on Saturday evening, a security official said.

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Titan: Little Earth with Really Bad Climate

Earth's little brother Titan among moons | Top stories |

Artist's rendition

IT BEARS a striking resemblance to our own Earth - right down to the smog-ridden atmosphere.

Using radar to pierce the thick atmosphere, scientists have mapped a third of the surface of Saturn's planet-sized moon, Titan.

And despite the alien environment, they have revealed an uncanny likeness to Earth, with mountain ranges, dunes, numerous lakes and suspected volcanoes.

And just as on Earth, the weather on Titan appears to have erased most evidence of meteorite craters.

"It really is surprising how closely Titan's surface resembles Earth's," said planetary geologist Rosaly Lopes, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in California.

"In fact, Titan looks more like the Earth than any other body in the Solar System, despite the huge differences in temperature and other environmental conditions."

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Karroubi Urges Investigation Into Claims of Rape of Detained Iranian Protestors

Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Inquiry urged into Iran rape claims
One of the defeated reformist candidates in Iran's disputed presidential election is calling for an investigation into claims that anti-government protesters were raped while in custody.

Mehdi Karroubi said in a letter, made public on Monday, that a number of detainees had claimed that several women and men, arrested amid violent demonstrations, were repeatedly abused by their jailers.

"A number of detainees have said that some female detainees have been raped savagely," Karroubi said in the letter to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential religious leader and former president.

"Young boys held in detention have also been savagely raped," he said, adding they were suffering from depression and serious physical harm after the alleged attacks.

Karroubi, who came fourth in the June election, appealed to Rafsanjani to bring the matter to the attention of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.

His claims came after some Iranian officials acknowledged that a number of those detained during a crackdown over the protests had been subjected to mistreatment in prison.

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Old Absinthe House, New Orleans

CONSTANT SIEGE - Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street,...

Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, New Orleans, as photographed in the 1890s.

Built in 1806 (some date 1798), it’s said that the pirate Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson planned the Battle of New Orleans in the upstairs apartments. Serving absinthe since at least 1874 (when legal), it still houses original cold-water drip fountains, the marble bases now pitted from over a century of use.

Aleister Crowley wrote ‘Absinthe The Green Goddess’ there, while waiting for a female companion to arrive. Other guests to drink there: Oscar Wilde, Robert E. Lee, PT Barnum, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Enrico Caruso, FDR, and Frank Sinatra.

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Child Labor, 1910

Donnie Cole: 1910 | Shorpy Photo Archive

November 1910. Birmingham, Alabama. "Donnie Cole. 'Our baby doffer,' they called him. This is one of the machines he has been working at for some months at the Avondale Mills. Said, after hesitation, 'I'm 12,' and another small boy added, 'He can't work unless he's twelve.' Child labor regulations conspicuously posted in the mill." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

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