Friday, 26 November 2010

Led Zeppelin.

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This post is about learning about business, study, play, work and rest, all of the things that we need to learn how to do properly. I have learnt that life is really difficult if people around you as a unit do not function properly, it first becomes an awareness lesson, then it becomes a testing session, then it becomes tiresome, then it becomes tidious, then it becomes annoying, then I think you start to realise more about life and what people put in, and what they get out. More importantly, bosses, trend and makebelief...

Led Zeppelin / Stairway to heaven

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A Technique That Shows Colorful Connections in the Brain

(Oct. 31, 2010) — The connections between neurons in a young, growing brain are more dynamic and changeable than previously thought, according to research based on a new technique that reveals the brain circuitry of a living mouse.

A neuron looks a bit like a tree: its branches are dendrites, which accept input and its roots are the axon, which send output. Where axons and dendrites of different neurons come together, they can make connections -- or synapses -- that relay signals and form circuits in the brain.
To study these connections, scientists have traditionally grown networks of neurons in petri dishes -- but there, networks are limited in their ability to mimic brain cells in a living, developing creature. Daniel Kerschensteiner, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is one of the first to study connections in the nervous system of living mice, by inserting genes into neurons that cause them to produce fluorescent molecules.
"The novel thing is that we can label specific pairs of pre- and post-synaptic cells and their connections in an intact circuit," said Kerschensteiner. "No one has really done that before."
When energized by the imaging technique called two-photon microscopy, the molecules fluoresce in different colors and reveal the structure and connectivity of brain circuits.
This approach has already yielded some surprising insights. For instance, studies of the neurons in the mouse retina have shown that neural connections can change dramatically fairly late in an animal's development -- in its second week of life, long after the arrangement of axons and dendrites has already been laid down.
In ongoing experiments, Kerschensteiner hopes to further refine science's understanding of how a developing brain reorganizes its connections as it grows -- as well as the internal mechanisms behind this rearrangement and how much it is influenced by an animal's experiences and external environment.
The presentation, "Imaging the Development of Neural Circuits in the Mammalian Retina," takes place on Oct. 25 at the Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2010/Laser Science XXVI -- the 94th annual meeting of the Optical Society (OSA), which is being held together with the annual meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Laser Science at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, N.Y., from Oct. 24-28.

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Led zeppelin / Since I've been lovin you

RELEASE : 10-285

NASA And The LEGO Group Partner To Inspire Children To Build And Explore The Future

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A LEGO space shuttle headed to orbit helps mark the Tuesday signing of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and The LEGO Group to spark children's interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To commemorate the beginning of this partnership, the small LEGO shuttle will launch with the crew of the space shuttle Discovery on its STS-133 mission, targeted to launch Wednesday, Nov. 3, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The partnership marks the beginning of a three-year agreement that will use the inspiration of NASA's space exploration missions and the appeal of the popular LEGO bricks to spur children's interest in STEM. The theme of the partnership is "Building and Exploring Our Future."

The LEGO Group will release four NASA-inspired products in their LEGO CITY line next year. The space-themed products will vary in terms of complexity, engaging audiences from young children to adult LEGO fans. Each product release will contain NASA-inspired education materials.

"Partnering with The LEGO Group is a perfect fit. We have taken the excitement of NASA's missions and coupled that with kids' love of creating things with the iconic LEGO bricks," said Leland Melvin, NASA's associate administrator for Education. "These projects not only foster creativity but also instill in the young builders a real sense of the engineering and design principles that NASA uses every day. Fun learning activities like these can help inspire kids to become the next generation of explorers."

As part of the Space Act Agreement, NASA will send special LEGO sets to the International Space Station aboard shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission in February 2011. The sets will be assembled by astronauts on-orbit and by children and student groups across the country. The construction process and activities with the sets will demonstrate the challenges faced when building things in the microgravity environment of space.

"The LEGO Group's purpose is to inspire children to think creatively, reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future," said Stephan Turnipseed, president of LEGO Education North America. "The partnership with NASA provides us a unique opportunity to fulfill our purpose while expanding the imaginations of children around the world. A child who plays with LEGO bricks today can become the NASA astronaut or engineer of tomorrow. "

As part of the NASA-The LEGO Group partnership kick-off, a 40-feet by 70-feet activity tent will be set up Wednesday at the shuttle launch viewing site on the NASA Causeway in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Children of all ages will be invited to get creative and build their vision of the future with LEGO bricks as they await Discovery's launch. To see images of STS-133 prelaunch activities, visit:

The site has galleries featuring images of prelaunch activities and will add games and other activities leading up to the release of the complete line of LEGO Space City games, activities and products on March 1.

NASA's Office of Education in Washington seeks partnerships that help the agency promote student interest in STEM studies and careers. For more information about NASA's partnership with LEGO and other education programs, visit:

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Led Zeppelin / The rain song

Light Pollution Blankets Even the Brightest Stars

Investigating why the stars over Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park are dimming.

Tue Nov 9, 2010 04:36 AM ET

Tens of thousands of visitors flock each year to Bryce Canyon to admire the stars.
Light pollution over the National Park is a growing menace for skywatchers.
Educating the public about light pollution is one program park rangers are spearheading.
The International Space Station orbits above the Gulf Coast at night. The lights of big cities are bright from space, but there's increasing concern for once remote regions where the glow of civilization is encroaching.

Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its unique geology and sprawling landscape. During the Ice Age, glaciers sliced through the red stone, leaving behind odd shapes and beautiful scenery. But the park's beauty doesn't disappear once the sun sets. In fact, it lights up.
Ever since 1969, Bryce Canyon has been hosting star programs for public visitors and amateur astronomers. This year, more than 37,000 visitors have participated in 100 different star presentations offered at the park.
Dark Ranger Kevin Poe believes recent events in space, such as the shuttle mission to fix the Hubble Space Telescope, have brought more people to the park. Poe also says visitors are noticing that the stars above aren't shining as brightly as they used to.
"It has become recognized as a fleeting resource and something valuable and families want to come and share with their kids something that might not be available, certainly not in this larger supply, when their children have children," Poe said.
The sky around the park is exceptionally dark, but it's not the darkest place in the country. It's not even the darkest place in Utah. Still, visitors come to Bryce Canyon to take advantage of the darkness and search for constellations and distant planets.
Light pollution might make looking through a telescope and seeing the Milky Way might become a thing of past. That's where Poe and his team of Dark Rangers come in. Their sole purpose is to spread public awareness of the downfalls of light pollution.
"It's evil in the sense that evil is often sneaky, insidious and well disguised. That's the problem of light pollution. People don't have it on their radar as being an environmental problem," Poe said.
The United States' understanding of light and its impact on the environment is somewhat dim. Poe hopes to clear up any misunderstandings about the uses of light, particularly when lights are used to deter crime away from homes.
Patrick Wiggins agrees with Poe. Wiggins, an amateur astronomer and pilot, has provided the park with different space programs for 24 years. He says the public needs to be informed about light pollution.
"Many people, unfortunately, these days walk out their backyard and look up at the sky and they see nothing. Human beings are really smart in many ways, but we're really stupid when it comes to light pollution," Wiggins said.
While light pollution might not take precedence over other environmental concerns, such as air pollution, cities have started to enact city ordinances to control its spread. Chad Moore, leader of the Night Sky Program, says such actions will in turn preserve the night sky.
He also believes the rise in energy costs could play an important role in decreasing light pollution.
"There is an economic incentive to reduce or get rid of light pollution. Sometimes you need less light to see,” Moore said.

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Led Zeppelin / Whole lotta love

Transport and engine issues

Huge cuts revealed in Irish budget

Updated: 24/11/2010 19:50

The Irish prime minister has called on his country to pull together as a people as he unveiled a raft of budget measures to restore the State's finances by 2014
Brian Cowen said no one can be sheltered from the plan for national recovery as he unveiled the extent of spending cuts in the new four-year budget.
Social welfare will be cut by 3 billion euro (£2.5 billion), the public sector pay bill will be reduced by 1.2 billion euro (£1 billion) and VAT in Ireland will rise by 2%.
The four-year plan warned that the drastic cuts will negatively impact on the living standards of the people of Ireland. The public sector workforce will be cut by 24,750, bringing levels back to 2005 levels and student fees will increase.
The minimum wage will be cut by one euro to 7.65 euro (£6.48), but corporation tax will remain at 12.5% - despite calls from other European nations for it to rise.
The Irish government predicted that its economy will grow by 2.75% on average between next year and 2014 and it forecast 90,000 new jobs and unemployment easing back to below 10% by 2014.
The National Recovery Plan stated: "The Plan will help dispel uncertainty and reinforce the confidence of consumers, businesses and of the international community. The tax and expenditure measures contained in this Plan will negatively affect the living standards of citizens in the short term.
"But postponing these measures will lead to greater burdens in the future for those who can least bear them, and will jeopardise our prospects of returning to sustainable growth and full employment."
Mr Cowen said: "It's to bring certainty for our people. It's to ensure that they have hope for the future. To let them know that while we have a challenging time ahead, we can and will pull through, as we have in the past."
The plan is designed to reduce the State's running costs by 15 billion euro (£12.7 billion) by 2014, with 10 billion euro (£8.4 billion) from spending and the rest from tax.

A really sensible judgement for the managment of such a small budget to perform for maximum land to person results is not something that we have seen from larger economies with reasonable climotology conditions. Applaud the Irish government for the hands on approach to democratic evolution in the workplace and on the homefront.

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Led Zeppelin / Black dog

Look to the west...

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Brazil's Child Labor: a Tradition Passed from Generation to Generation

2010 - November 2010

Wednesday, 17 November 2010 00:27

"To force a child to work is to steal the future of that child." - Brazil's President Lula. (1) While Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has made significant efforts to reduce child labor, at the end of his tenure the issue still remains urgent. Forging a successful strategy to reduce child labor is not a simple task, since the reasons behind it are deeply embedded in the country's economic and social structure.

In 2004, President Lula, who himself began to work at the age of eleven, declared fighting child labor a high priority. (2) Although Brazil is often regarded as a positive example for other Latin American countries for its progress in the fight against child labor, more than four million Brazilian children between the ages of 5 and 17 are still working. (3) Especially in the poorer northeastern part of the country, many children have no choice but to become integrated into the illegal job market.

In 1989, the Brazilian constitution enshrined certain fundamental rights for children. The constitution now states that the state has to approve every decision made by the federal government that affects children in order to demonstrate that it is beneficial to children's interest. (4)

Moreover, the constitution states that no child or adolescent should be a victim of neglect, discrimination, exploitation, violence, cruelty, or repression. (5) Nearly every district throughout the country has a council whose job it is to ensure that children's rights are observed. In practice, however, these bodies are often criticized for undertaking inadequate efforts to improve the lives of children in Brazil. (6)

Why Do Children Work?

Child labor in Brazil remains chiefly fueled by extreme poverty. Claire Salmon, assistant professor in the Department of Economics of the University of Savoie, points out, "Children are much more likely to work when they live in a household where the potential of income generation is low and where this potential has already been used up." (7)

In many low-income Brazilian communities, children constitute a reserve army of labor. When the adult members in the household do not generate sufficient income, children are usually expected to work. Brazilian children are often employed in places where they can work with their hands, such as in sugar, orange, coffee, or cocoa plantations. Since field workers are often paid according to their output rather than an hourly rate, parents are often tempted to make their children work with them to increase the family's earnings. (8)

As a result, an important indicator for child labor is whether a mother has a paid job or not, as children are likely to work with their mothers. This is particularly the case for young children, especially girls, and children living in rural areas. According to Levison, Degraff, and Robinson, "There are strong connections between mothers' and children's employment characteristics, including industry and sector, location, commute times and whether paid." (9) This distinctiveness has to be taken into consideration when the government wants to address child labor in its policy.

In addition to poverty, cultural habits in Brazil also play a significant role in child labor. In the impoverished northern areas of Brazil, most of the people who are parents today started working before they were eight years old. (10) Since child labor was very familiar to them as they were growing up, these Brazilians often fail to view child labor as a serious problem, in contrast to their wealthier western counterparts. The problem of child labor thus becomes trapped in a generational cycle.

A third reason for parents to send children to work relates to the condition of Brazilian public schools. In sparsely populated rural areas, primary schools are located far away from each other, and secondary schools only exist in bigger cities. These schools are generally underequipped and in bad structural shape due to lack of funding.

Officially, education is compulsory for all children in Brazil aged 7 to 14, but the requirement is only loosely enforced. (11) There are many poor families living in favelas and rural areas who cannot afford to buy the required school uniforms, books, and bus tickets. Ninety percent of children working in rural areas attend school for less than four years, and only one out of every eight children living in a favela goes to school. (12)

Between School and Work

It is important to note, however, that child labor and school attendance are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The 1998 Brazilian Household Survey showed that almost 18 percent of boys between the ages of 7 and 16 hold at least a part-time job. Nevertheless, school attendance is quite high; 93 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls between 7 and 16 attend school at least part-time. (13)

Scholars have reached different conclusions on the effect of labor on children. Whereas many studies reveal the negative effects of child labor on school attendance and learning, some studies found no relationship between work and education, and others showed that paid work actually enables some children to pay tuition, when they would otherwise be forced to drop out completely. (14)

A 2006 study investigated factors that deter children from school attendance, concluding that child labor decreases the probability of continuous schooling. (15) In contrast, Professor Kaushik Basu, C. Marks Professor of International Studies and Economics at Cornell University, referred to field workers in India who argued that, in poor areas it is best policy to allow children to combine schooling with some work.

"Doing some work and earning some money may be the only way that children can afford to attend school," he said. (16) Indeed, the relationship between child labor and education may be more complex than previously thought - any solution Brazilians devise will have to take such complexity into account.

Fighting Child Labor

Finding the appropriate way to help working children is challenging because simply prohibiting child labor may in fact worsen conditions for Brazil's poorest citizens. It would be mistaken to assume that parents would ensure that their children attend school regularly if they expected harsh legal consequences for allowing them to carry a paid job.

Were the government to outlaw child labor, parents would likely force their children to work in even less regulated and less visible jobs. Certain areas of work, such as jobs in private households, cannot be effectively regulated by the Brazilian state, and if children work in the home, it is nearly impossible to protect them from abuses.

Indeed, Professor Larry French of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University suggests that domestic work can be even more harmful for children than labor market jobs. Furthermore, domestic jobs are often not captured in child labor statistics.

Brazilian girls are particularly likely to be forced to work in their parents' households, where no one can monitor their welfare. French's survey shows that both housework and childcare in Brazil have a negative impact on girls' health, as well as on their school grades and overall quality of life.

In contrast to jobs in the labor market, which are usually structured and overseen by a single individual, housework includes different tasks which are often supervised by different family members throughout the day. Furthermore, housework is often underpaid and is considered less valued than other types of work. (17)

Programs Against Child Labor

One policy President Lula implemented in order to reduce child labor was Bolsa Família, a financial assistance program for needy families. The program goes beyond simply prohibiting child labor by also providing financial incentives to poor families that ensure that their children attend school regularly and receive vaccinations.

Bolsa Família provides a monthly stipend of 22 reais, about USD 12, for school attendance for up to three children per family. It is available for all families that have an income below the poverty line of 140 reais per month. Families who otherwise would have to live in extreme poverty (with an income less than seventy reais per month), now can receive an additional flat sum of 68 reais per month. (18)

The program has generated high praise from various domestic and international sources. According to the World Bank, Bolsa Família is "one of the key factors behind the positive social outcomes achieved by Brazil in recent years." (19)

The Economist describes it as an anti-poverty program that "is winning converts worldwide." (20) The money is usually given to the female head of a household through "Citizen Cards", which are similar to debit cards.

Ninety-four percent of the funds go to the poorest 40 percent of the population. Numerous surveys highlight the success of the program, showing that most of the money is spent on food, school supplies, and clothes for the children. (21)

Nevertheless, some critics find that Bolsa Família is part of a strategy to minimize any increase in the legal minimum wage; a move that they say would more effectively benefit a larger number of families. (22)

Raymundo Mesquita, a Salesian brother who has worked with children of the slums of Belo Horizonte and other large cities for 37 years, also criticized the program. According to Mesquita, many families become dependent on the money sent by the government, which he claims leads a number of aid recipients to lose interest in working towards a professional career that would provide them with enough income to live without money from the Bolsa Família program.

Political paternalism and corruption are also big problems, especially in northern Brazil. In Mesquita's opinion, Brazil's future should depend heavily on education reform, an issue that the Lula administration did not adequately address. He points out that there are several free employment opportunities in Brazil that remain vacant due to a lack of well-educated workers. (23)

Of special concern is the poor reading and writing abilities of many Brazilians. For example, in Caetés, a town with about 25,000 inhabitants in traditionally poor northeast Brazil, about 30 percent of the population is illiterate. According to a government report in March, more than 22 percent of the approximately 25 million workers available to join Brazil's work force in 2010 do not meet the education requirements of the labor market. Former estimates showed that tens of thousands of jobs in Brazil were unclaimed due to a lack of qualified workers. (24)

A Right to Work? Differing Opinions on Child Labor

Views differ widely concerning the question how to evaluate child labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO) strongly condemns child labor, which they describe as "unacceptable because the children involved are too young and should be in school, or because even though they have attained the minimum age for admission to employment, the work that they do is unsuitable for a person below the age of 18." (25)

However, the ILO does attempt to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable work for children. (26) According to the ILO, acceptable labor is defined as relatively easy work that does not harm the children's well being or adversely affect school attendance. Unacceptable work refers to every form of compulsory labor, bonded child labor, slavery, and abuse, all of which negatively affects the children's health, morale, and security. (27)

Basu takes a different perspective, pointing out that sometimes, "there are worse things that could happen to a child than working." (28) The alternative could be suffering, hunger, or starvation. Additionally, holding a job sometimes helps children to attend school by providing money for school fees and other daily costs.

The discussion of whether children have a right to work is two-sided. According to Professor Manfred Liebel, director of the International Academy for Innovative Pedagogy, Psychology, and Economics (INA) at the Free University of Berlin, the right to work can be understood as "an individual child's right to freely decide whether, where, how, and for how long they would like to work, and it goes beyond employment under the regime and dependency of an employer within a capitalist economy."

According to this school of thought, the right to work is supposed to broaden children's capacity to make decisions and help them integrate into society. As Liebel points out, since the late 1970s there have been several small, informal mutual aid groups for children as well as initiatives among young people and adults in Latin America who urge children to claim their rights independently. These movements do not oppose child labor, but rather want children to work without exploitation under fair and safe conditions.

Most participants in these mutual aid groups are between the ages of 12 and 18 years old and are employed in the informal economy. According to Liebel, these groups structure themselves so that children effectively have most of the power, allowing them to make decisions and have the final say. "This is where children find and develop their own social spaces and age specific forms of communication," Liebel asserts, "by which they can assure themselves of their situation, search for solutions to their problems and develop their identity."

According to him, organizations of working children have already succeeded, at least in some Latin American countries including Peru and Bolivia, in influencing the legislation with their views. (29) Nevertheless, as Liebel points out, these organizations provide a strong complement to international labor law and national action programs, which try to achieve a complete abolition of child labor. It is hard to tell yet which approach will become prevalent.

The Effects of Brazil's Economic Growth

Brazil has the strongest economy in Latin America, with large agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, and it is fast expanding its presence on the world stage. Despite seeing record growth in 2007 and 2008, Brazil was not entirely spared by the financial crisis.

Since September 2008, the country has experienced two quarters of recession in which global demand for Brazil's commodity-based exports diminished, while external credit soared. Nevertheless, Brazil recovered faster than most other emerging markets, and its GDP grew in the second quarter of 2009. For 2010, Brazil's Central Bank expects an economic growth rate of 5 percent. (30)

Liebel explains why a reduction in poverty is so important in the battle against child labor: "Economic growth does not automatically reduce the demand for working children, but a reduction of poverty reduces the pressure for children and their families to accept exploitation." (31) Consequently, Brazil's growing economy has the potential to reduce child labor.

According to Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, "there has been some significant progress during Lula's presidency, with cumulative per capita GDP growth of 23 percent, as compared to just 3.5 percent during the Cardoso years." (32)

Moreover, during Lula's tenure, unemployment declined significantly from over 11 percent in 2003 to 6.9 percent in 2010. Furthermore, according to the UN Economic Commission on Latin America, from 2003 to 2008, the poverty rate decreased from 38.7 percent to 25.8 percent. (33)

Brazil has become an important trade partner for a number of developed countries, receiving much media attention in the process. Brazil's increasingly high profile certainly has the potential to place pressure on it to improve its record on child labor. Highly developed countries, such as the United States, are now closely linked to Brazil.

For example, the U.S. is Brazil's second largest trade partner after China, with a trade relationship valued at more than USD 46 billion. (34) Brazil's trading partners have an important responsibility to demand children's rights and avoid buying products which are produced under exploitive working conditions.

The number of working children in Brazil has been declining in recent years, due in part to Lula's commendable efforts to reduce extreme poverty, which is demonstrably the main cause of child labor. Nevertheless, 25.8 percent of families are still classified as very poor in Brazil (35) and are likely to continue to depend on child labor.

Even though the Bolsa Família program provides an income supplement for a major portion of the country's poor, critics remain skeptical about the long-term effects of the program. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's new president-elect. still has much work to do to improve the situation of poor children in Brazil and protect them from exploitation.

If the country wants to continue to compete with other nations as a major modern power, it needs a drastically improved education system, as well as highly qualified workers. Consequently, ensuring that children are attending good schools on a regular basis and do not fall into a cycle of child labor must remain as an issue of highest priority in the hearts and minds of Brazilians across the country.

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Of course, most people in the world want our elders to be safe and well fed, warm and have therapy and medicine available for zero cost, how many people must die before we all agree that who ever invented the cure is a blessed person, but, hugely more important is the number of people that were blessed by it's innnocent genuine desire to cure and not swap an illness for a worry of some other sort be it financial or some other sort of debt.

Led Zeppelin / Moby dick

Led Zeppelin / Dazed and confused

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TALK TALK {communications company}

November 2010

Dear Customer

As you may know, from 4th January 2011, the government is increasing standard VAT from 17.5% to 20%. At TalkTalk we strive to give you the best value possible, so we are pleased to confirm that we will not apply this increase to your monthly package fee. This means if you are on our Essentials package you will still pay just £6.99 a month, and if you are on our Plus package just £14.99 a month. We also recognise the importance of being safe online, and as a result the price of our Super Secure Boost will decrease to £1.99 a month on Essentials and remain FREE on Plus.

We want to keep you up to date on the improvements we are continually making to our service to ensure we give you the best value possible. Here are some of the most recent developments:

The Launch of our new SIM card and Mobile Broadband products exclusively for existing customers

Improvements to My Account - your online billing and customer service tool - making it easier and faster to access your bills and customer information

Further investment in our next generation network - giving millions of homes even faster broadband

We will also be Launching TalkTalk BrightFeed - our unique security service, with Parental Controls and Virus Alerts, that works to help keep your whole home safer online

In order to continue providing a high level of service, reliability and value, we have to review our pricing from time to time. In line with the VAT increase from the 4th January 2011, line rental will change from £12.04 to £12.30 a month. Call charges and other fees will also be affected by the VAT change. Further package specific changes are listed at the end of this letter. For full details of our terms and conditions please visit

Thanks for being a TalkTalk customer. We hope you continue to enjoy all the benefits of your phone and broadband package.

Kind regards,

From 4th January 2011:
If you are on Essentials, the Anytime UK Calls Boost will cost £4.49 a month and Mega Download Boost will cost £4.99 a month.

The monthly fee that applies if you don't pay your bill by Direct Debit will increase from £3.50 to £4.50. This fee does not apply if you pay by Direct Debit.

We are changing the rates for calling international mobiles to 10p or 15p per minute above the country's landline rate. Please see for more details.

The cost of calling some 'non-geographic' numbers (e.g. starting 0904/0843/0872) will increase. The cost of calling BT's 118500 and 118404 directory enquiries services will also increase, but you can continue to save 50% versus those numbers on a one-minute call if you dial 118111 from your TalkTalk landline*.
Please see for more details.

TalkTalk Telecom Limited. Registered Office:11 Evesham Street, London W11 4AR. Registered in England. Company Number 6534112


*50% Saving: From 4th January 2011, the cost of calling BT's 118500 and 118404 service will be 99p per call and £1.49 per min. Cost of calling TalkTalk's 118111 service will be 49p per call and 75p per minute. Based on comparison between 1 minute call from registered TalkTalk landline. Prices correct at time of publication.
Full T's and C's at & prices at

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Led zeppelin / Babe I'm gonna leave you

Nuclear Materials Detector Shows Exact Location of Radiation Sources

(Nov. 5, 2010) — A table-top gamma-ray detector created at the University of Michigan can not only identify the presence of dangerous nuclear materials, but can pinpoint and show their exact location and type, unlike conventional detectors.

"Other gamma ray detectors can tell you perhaps that nuclear materials are near a building, but with our detector, you can know the materials are in room A, or room B, for example," said Zhong He, an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences.
"This is the first instrument for this purpose that can give you a real-time image of the radiation source. Not only can we tell you what material is there, but we can tell you where it is, and you can find it and walk towards it."
He presented this device, called Polaris, the week of Nov. 1 at the International Workshop on Room-Temperature Semiconductor Detectors, held in conjunction with 2010 IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference in Knoxville, Tenn.
Gamma rays are high-energy photons, or particles of light. They are emitted by dirty bombs and special nuclear materials that could be used for nuclear weapons.
Polaris is composed of 18 cubes of the semiconductor cadmium zinc telluride. Each cube measures and records the energy and three-dimensional position of every gamma ray photon interaction that takes place within the detector. It also determines the direction each photon came from.
A computer connected to the detector uses the energy information to identify the type of material emitting it. Different materials appear in the detector's image as different colors. The device uses the photon direction and position information to show the location of the source.
He underscored why having an image to guide an inspector to a radiation source is especially helpful.
"If you don't have an image, it's like collecting the spectrum of the light in this room," he said. "You wouldn't know what's happening in the room. With an image, obviously, you can see what's happening, and who is here and where they are standing."
Polaris will also be more convenient and portable to use in the field, compared with its current counterparts, He said. It operates at room temperature, whereas the high-purity germanium gamma ray detectors typically used today must be cooled to -200 degrees Celsius or they won't work.
This research was funded by the Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Department of Energy, and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office of the Department of Homeland Security.

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Led Zeppelin / The ocean

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Species Accumulate on Earth at Slower Rates Than in the Past, Computational Biologists Say

(Oct. 1, 2010) — Computational biologists at the University of Pennsylvania say that species are still accumulating on Earth but at a slower rate than in the past.

In the study, published in the journal PLoS Biology, Penn researchers developed a novel computational approach to infer the dynamics of species diversification using the family trees of present-day species. Using nine patterns of diversification as alternative models, they examined 289 phylogenies, or evolutionary trees, representing amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, mollusks and flowering plants.
The study demonstrated that diversity is generally not at equilibrium. Nonetheless, speciation rates have typically decayed over time, suggesting that the diversification of species is somehow constrained, and that equilibrium may eventually be reached.
There are many competing theories for how species diversify and become extinct. Some suggest that species continually accumulate in time, always finding new ecological niches. Other theories suggest that the number of coexisting species is limited and that we will eventually have equilibrium. In other words, a species will be born only when another goes extinct.
The question that intrigued the Penn researchers was whether species diversity on Earth is in equilibrium or is still expanding. They also wondered whether the world has an invisible stop sign on species diversity that would eventually limit the diversity on the planet.
"What we see is diversification rates that are declining but not yet to zero," said Joshua Plotkin, assistant professor in the Department of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn. "We are not yet in equilibrium. Either there is a limit to the total species number and we haven't reached it yet, or there is no such limit. But the rates of diversification are typically falling; when we will hit zero is not yet obvious."
While it is clear that Earth has recently lost species due to human impact, this study dealt with much longer, geologic time scales. Understanding these long-term dynamics is central to our understanding of what controls present-day biodiversity across groups and regions.
Even though the study did not deal with the current anthropogenic loss of biodiversity, researchers were surprised at how little extinction they actually saw in the evolutionary trees of species. The fossil record shows that many species have gone extinct over geologic time. For example, the diversity of whales has decreased during the last ~12 million years. But extinction was rarely apparent in this analysis of evolutionary trees.
The study also shows how analyzing molecular phylogenies can shed light on patterns of speciation and extinction; future work may reconcile this approach with the fossil record.
"By taking advantage of existing data from the flood of genomic research, we hope to combine efforts with paleontologists gathering fossil data," Plotkin said.
The study was conducted by Hélène Morlon and Plotkin of the Department of Biology in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences and Matthew D. Potts of the University of California, Berkeley.
It was funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, James S. McDonnell Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

All work and no play makes a man dull... Lol...

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Saturday, 20 November 2010


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This post is about moving to different places, whether preparing for the move, deciding to move, planning a move, or being part of a cycle which has not been learnt yet. The relevance to all movement is it's direction, for many different applications life is a wondrous thing, it is a blessing to be given the opportunity to experience reality for what it is, what we could make it, help it become, for what we experience from others, how we differentiate from others who seem to be a part of our reality... These days are an extremely wealthy gift to us, for me, this post is before the word humble...

Gorillaz / Sunshine in a bag

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Snoop Dogg / Gangbangin'101 featuring the game

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Ice cube / It was a good day

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NASA moves X-34s out of storage, considers return to flight status


Two X-planes parked in storage by NASA for nearly 10 years have been moved to a new facility to be inspected for a possible return to flying status, the agency says.

Orbital Sciences Corp will determine whether the X-34s are still viable as technology demonstrators for reusable space vehicles.

Both X-34s have been stored at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center near Palmdale, California since the hypersonic spaceflight programme was cancelled in 2001.

Neither aircraft was flown under its own power before being moved into storage, although one vehicle completed three captive carry tests from an Orbital Sciences-owned Lockheed L-1011.

A NASA contractor moved both X-34's overnight on 16 November, trucking the aircraft with their vertical tails removed from Dryden to a hangar owned by the National Test Pilot school in Mojave, California.

Orbital Sciences X-34 spacecraft arrives in Mojave, California, on 16 November after being moved out of storage at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Centre picture]

Maroon 5 / She will be loved

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Sonar Inspired by Dolphins: New Kind of Underwater Device Can Detect Objects Through Bubble Clouds

(Nov. 18, 2010) — Scientists at the University of Southampton have developed a new kind of underwater sonar device that can detect objects through bubble clouds that would effectively blind standard sonar.

Just as ultrasound is used in medical imaging, conventional sonar 'sees' with sound. It uses differences between emitted sound pulses and their echoes to detect and identify targets. These include submerged structures such as reefs and wrecks, and objects, including submarines and fish shoals.
However, standard sonar does not cope well with bubble clouds resulting from breaking waves or other causes, which scatter sound and clutter the sonar image.
Professor Timothy Leighton of the University of Southampton's Institute of Soundand Vibration Research (ISVR), who led the research, explained:
"Cold War sonar was developed mainly for use in deep water where bubbles are not much of a problem, but many of today's applications involve shallow waters. Better detection and classification of targets in bubbly waters are key goals of shallow-water sonar."
Leighton and his colleagues have developed a new sonar concept called twin inverted pulse sonar (TWIPS). TWIPS exploits the way that bubbles pulsate in sound fields, which affects the characteristics of sonar echoes.
"To catch prey, some dolphins make bubble nets in which the best man-made sonar would not work. It occurred to me that either dolphins were blinding their sonar when making such nets, or else they have a better sonar system. There were no recordings of the type of sonar that dolphins use in bubble nets, so instead of producing a bio-inspired sonar by copying dolphin signals, I sat down and worked out what pulse I would use if I were a dolphin," said Leighton.
As its name suggests, TWIPS uses trains of twinned pairs of sound pulses. The first pulse of each pair has a waveform that is an inverted replica of that of its twin. The first pulse is emitted a fraction of a second before its inverted twin.
Leighton's team first showed theoretically that TWIPS might be able to enhance scatter from the target while simultaneously suppressing clutter from bubbles. In principle, it could therefore be used to distinguish echoes from bubble clouds and objects that would otherwise remain hidden.
In their latest study, the researchers set out to see whether TWIPS would work in practice. Using a large testing tank, they showed experimentally that TWIPS outperformed standard sonar at detecting a small steel disc under bubbly conditions resembling those found under oceanic breaking waves.
Encouraged by their findings, they next conducted trials at sea aboard the University of Southampton's coastal research vessel the RV Bill Conway. They compared the ability of TWIPS and standard sonar to discern the seabed in Southampton Water, which handles seven per cent of the UK's entire seaborne trade. The seabed in this area varies in depth between 10 and 20 metres.
"TWIPS outperformed standard sonar in the wake of large vessels such as passenger ferries," said co-author Dr Justin Dix of the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES) based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
Possible future marine applications for TWIPS include harbour protection and the detection of bubbles in marine sediments and manufacturing. Technologies based on the same basic principles could be used in medical ultrasound imaging, which was already using pairs of inverted pulses to enhance (rather than suppress) contrast agents injected into the body. The TWIPS principle would work with other sensors such as in Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI), and Leighton has proposed TWIPR (Twin Inverted Pulse Radar) for the detection of improvised explosive devices or covert circuitry.
But what about the original inspiration for the research -- do dolphins and other echolocating animals use TWIPS?
"Key ingredients of a TWIPS system appear in separate species but they have never been found all together in a single species," said Leighton. "There is currently no evidence that dolphins use TWIPS processing, although no-one has yet taken recordings of the signals from animals hunting with bubble nets in the wild. How they successfully detect prey in bubbly water remains a mystery that we are working to solve. I have to pay credit to the team -- students Daniel Finfer and Gim-Hwa Chua of ISVR, and Paul White (ISVR) and Justin Dix of SOES. Our applications for funding this work were repeatedly turned down, and it took real grit and determination to keep going for the five years it took us to get this far."

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Brazil responds to infrastructure challenge


Brazil plans to address its growing airport infrastructure challenge as the country's domestic market continues to expand rapidly.
The president of Brazil's civil aviation authority ANAC, Solange Paiva, told the 2010 ALTA Airline Leadership Forum the Brazilian government is "concerned about infrastructure and airports" and "in the first quarter of next year we need to make some kind of decision".
Paiva says the recent private concession to construct a new airport in Natal may be used as the model going forward to pursue other airport projects throughout Brazil. She says Brazil seeks to open up the airport sector to new players "so there's no monopoly or abuse" at existing operators and "so there's no barriers to enter the market".
Paiva pointed out the current infrastructure challenge was driven by deregulating the Brazilian market after Varig's collapse. Brazil's domestic market has since recorded some of the fastest growth figures in the world, including 19% RPK growth in 2009 and 25% RPK growth through the first 10 months of 2010. "This is the great challenge we have in aviation in Brazil - infrastructure," Pavia acknowledges.
TAM CEO Libano Barroso agrees, telling the same panel at the forum that "demand is growing fast and infrastructure is lagging that". But Barroso says the current infrastructure challenge is "a good problem to solve" given the profitable growth at Brazil's carriers.
Speaking to ATI and Flightglobal after speaking at the forum, Gol chief executive Constantino de Oliveira Junior says Brazil will need nine to ten new airports the size of Sao Paulo Guarulhos over the next 20 years "We need much more investment in airports and air traffic control to accommodate the growth," he says.
Oliveira expects the Brazilian government will start to focus on the issue as Brazil plans to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. "That will be the chance for Brazil to give the world a good impression," he says.
In the meantime Oliveira says Gol is planning to focus growth outside Sao Paulo with "overflights" and expansion at other hubs such as Belo Horizonte's Confins airport. "At Confins, Brasilia and even Rio de Janeiro Gaeleao there's still room for growth," he says.
In Sao Paulo Oliveira believes a proposal to build a fourth airport after Guarulhos Congonhas and Campinas is not necessary as there is room to grow Campinas, where fast-growing low-cost carrier Azul is based and where Gol is also expanding. "In my opinion Campinas development is the right choice," Oliveira says, pointing out in addition to new terminals the alternative airport is slated to get a high-speed rail connection to downtown Sao Paulo.

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Krs one / Loves gonna getcha

Krs one / Sound of the police

The need for sensible policing of space is easily shown with the modern day video example shown. Heaven knows that with our families in the heavens, there will be no escape for ancestors and ultimately, descendants.

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Fleetwood mac / Albatross

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Listeners' Brains Respond More to Native Accent Speakers; Imaging Study Suggests Accents Are Subtle 'Insider' or 'Outsider' Signal to the Brain

(Nov. 18, 2010) — The brains of Scots responded differently when they listened to speakers with Scottish accents than to speakers with American or British accents, a new study has found. Understanding how our brains respond to other accents may explain one way in which people have an unconscious bias against outsiders.

The research was presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego.
"Many positive and negative social attributes are inferred from accents, and it's important to find the underlying cognitive mechanisms of how people perceive them," said lead author Patricia Bestelmeyer, PhD. "Accents affect perceptions of competence or trustworthiness, important attributes for salesmen and jobseekers alike."
Research conducted at the University of Glasgow suggests that people process words spoken with their own accent more quickly and effortlessly than other accents. In the study, 20 Scots listened to recordings of nine female speakers (three American, three British, and three Scottish) while their brain activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The authors suspected that brain activity in an area associated with accent processing would decrease as accented words were repeated and the brain became accustomed to them. However, they found this occurred only when the Scots listened to American or British accents, and not to Scottish accents, suggesting the listeners had to adapt to outsiders' accents, but not their own.
"The pattern of neural activity differed strikingly in response to their own specific accent compared with other English accents," Bestelmeyer said. "The initial results suggest that such vocal samples somehow reflect group membership or social identity, so that 'in-group' voices are processed differently from the 'out-group.'"
Research was supported by the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council and the U.K. Medical Research Council.

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My friends, truelly, there are those who were born to watch...

Some perhaps learned to fly away...

At the start of my twenties, like many other younger men I wanted to discipline my body because I did not practice football at a serious level anymore, of course, learning to stretch ones body to perform precision movement is certainly consuming... Perhaps for many it cannot be a longevity seeking physical practice because of 'time restraints' placed upon the body. For the 2 years I trained two or three times per week at a Mugendo club I really enjoyed martial arts, previous of a British championship competition I tore muscles in my buttocks while stretching, I have not been back to training since because of my acknowledgment that some things are not meant to be for some people, 190 degree leg stretches are not everyones idea of good exercise.

I've been looking for videos of my sensae who is and was a world champion kick boxer, I trained just a five minute walk from the world mugendo university, many of the students who I am still good friends with, but, I did prefer the more refined atmosphere of my sensaes own clubs, probably because the majority of my sensaes students had been my school friends.

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KRS one / step into the world

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Tai chi is a very common practice among Chinese people, it is a listening healing that brings balance to the human body and the knowledge that is a part of it, many chinese people practice tai chi everyday at the local park, actually many many town squares and community spaces are specifically for practicing tai chi.

BBC programme ''the sky at night''...

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Resolved Question
Pigeons where DO they all go????

London and the home counties are full of them-yet the streets aren't littered with dead birds-its a bit like all the odd socks in the world-WHERE do all the dead pigeons go?

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

A lot will die where they roost - in abandoned factories etc.

Although, believe it or not, some people start work in the early hours with the sole purpose of removing dead animals from the streets and roads.

Many people that travel learn that people move at different paces according to different observation, hopefully our legal administration have the opportunity to maintain a good knowledge of the evolving atmosphere and it's modern standard of data affiliation.

[Flightcrewmember duty and rest requirements]

[Crew member requirements when passengers are on board]

Ritchie Valens / Sleepwalk

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It seems for a lot of us moving through life and learning about people is difficult, relationships with people that we don't ethically, morally, primitively or basically don't understand produces a feeling of loneliness, and often is the situation for people who are estranged from life situations.

As man at the verge of space travel it is imperitive that we continue to add and maintain our knowledge of evolution. As we have seen it is considerably difficult to survey the speed at which species evolve and develope intelligence, we have shown atomic and molecular ability to traverse spacial territories.

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Overcoming the 'Tragedy of the Commons': Conditonal Cooperation Helps in Forest Preservation

(Nov. 13, 2010) — Many imminent problems facing the world today, such as deforestation, overfishing, or climate change, can be described as 'commons problems.' The solution to these problems requires cooperation from hundreds and thousands of people. Such large scale cooperation, however, is plagued by the infamous cooperation dilemma. According to the standard prediction, in which each individual follows only his own interests, large-scale cooperation is impossible because free-riders enjoy common benefits without bearing the cost of their provision. Yet, extensive field evidence indicates that many communities are able to manage their commons, albeit with varying degrees of success.

How do we explain this variation in management outcomes? How do different levels of cooperation emerge and what contributes to their success? The economist Prof. Michael Kosfeld examined these questions together with his colleagues Devesh Rustagi and Prof. Stefanie Engel from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. The answer: The degree of voluntary cooperation together with the monitoring of free-riders plays a key role in the success of commons management.
In their field study, details of which are published in the November 12 issue of the journal Science, the researchers analyzed a major forest commons management program launched to save the biodiversity rich Afro-montane ecosystem and the livelihood of the Bale Oromo pastoralists in Ethiopia. The team was particularly interested in the degree of conditional cooperation in a group. This means that group members are willing to cooperate voluntarily provided that others cooperate as well. Numerous behavioral experiments with student participants have shown that conditional cooperation plays a significant role in solving the dilemma of cooperation. However, so far no evidence exists which corroborates the relevance of conditional cooperation in the field with actual commons users. The researchers' objective was to provide exactly this evidence.
The economists conducted behavioral cooperation-experiments with 679 members from 49 different forest user groups in which they elicited the group members' willingness to cooperate voluntarily. They found that groups differ widely in their share of conditional cooperators, from 0 % to 88 %. In groups with lower share of conditional cooperators, free-rider share was high. To examine how this impacts forest management success, the team ran a variety of statistical analyses which showed that groups with larger share of conditional cooperators were much more successful in managing their forests. The success of a group was determined by the number of trees of intermediate height per hectare. Trees of this kind are vital for the sustainable growth of the forest.
But why are groups with larger share of conditional cooperators more successful at forest management? To entangle this puzzle, the trio looked at the time spent by group members in monitoring their forest. They found that groups with higher share of conditional cooperators not only cooperate more but also monitor more by conducting patrols through the forest. Such patrols are important for the detection and deterrence of free-riding. A group with 60 % conditional cooperators was likely to spend on average 14 hours more per month in monitoring than a group without any conditional cooperators. Devesh Rustagi, a post-doc at the Institute for Environmental Decisions, says "this finding is interesting, as it shows that conditional cooperators are willing to spend resources to detect individuals who free-ride at their expense. It provides a behavioral link in explaining monitoring as a success mechanism in commons management."
"The results of our study provide first-time evidence that conditional cooperation which has been identified in many laboratory experiments before plays a key role in a concrete case of commons management in the field," explains Michael Kosfeld, Director of the Frankfurt Laboratory of Experimental Economics at Goethe-University. "Our findings fill a long-standing gap between field and laboratory studies on human cooperation."
The results also shed light on the evolution of human cooperation. They show a positive co-variation between conditional cooperation and costly monitoring. This is in line with the theory of gene-culture evolution, which predicts higher cooperation in groups where enforcement of cooperation is prevalent.
"The results yield important policy implications for the governance of human collective action," explains Rustagi. "Because humans differ in their motivation to cooperate, an effective solution to commons problems should not be based on incentives for purely self-regarding individuals alone but needs to explicitly take into account the complex interplay of heterogeneous motivations and behavioral norms to cooperate voluntarily."
Prof. Stefanie Engel from the Institute for Environmental Decisions at ETH Zurich concludes: "Given that the UN has declared 2010 as the year of biodiversity and 2011 the year of forests, the results may in fact open new doors to find solutions to commons problems, which house nearly 18% of the world's forests and a large share of biodiversity."

Krs one / A friend

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Enigma of Missing Stars in Local Group of Galaxies May Be Solved

(Nov. 19, 2010) — In the local group of galaxies that also includes the Andromeda Nebula and our Milky Way, there are about 100 billion stars. According to astronomers' calculations, there should be many more. Now, physicists from the University of Bonn and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland may have found an explanation for this discrepancy.

Their study will appear in the upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
New stars are born in the Universe around the clock -- on the Milky Way, currently about ten per year. From the birth rate in the past, we can generally calculate how populated space should actually be. But the problem is that the results of such calculations do not match our actual observations. "There should actually be a lot more stars that we can see," says Dr. Jan Pflamm-Altenburg, astrophysicist at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie of the University of Bonn.
So, where are those stars?
For years, astronomers worldwide have been looking for a plausible explanation for this discrepancy. In cooperation with Dr. Carsten Weidner from St. Andrews University, Dr. Pflamm-Altenburg and Professor Dr. Pavel Kroupa, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Bonn, may now have found the solution. It seems that so far, the birth rate has simply been overestimated. But this answer is not quite as simple as it sounds. Apparently, the error of estimation only occurs during periods of particularly high star production.
The reason for this lies in the manner in which astronomers calculate the birth rate. "For the local Universe -- i.e., the Milky Way as our home and the adjacent galaxies -- it is relatively simple," explains Professor Kroupa. "Here we are able to count the young stars one by one, using huge telescopes."
The problem with this method is that it only works for our immediate vicinity. But many galaxies are so distant that even the best telescope simply overlooks their small stars. As luck would have it, however, occasionally there is an especially large whopper among the newbie's in the sky. Such a star will, even if it cannot be directly discovered as an individual star, leave its traces in the light of even the farthest galaxies. The number of large whoppers then determines the strength of this trace.
In our immediate vicinity, these large whoppers occur with a fixed probability. There are always about 300 lightweights to one "big star baby." This numerical ratio seemed to be universal. So it was sufficient for astronomers to know the number of the large whoppers, for this allowed them to determine the number of new-born stars by simply multiplying the former number by a factor of 300.
Population explosion in space
Recently, however, some Bonn astronomers around Professor Kroupa began doubting the fixed ratio. Their hypothesis is that at times when the galactic nurseries are booming, they generate a considerably higher number of stellar heavies than normal. The reason for this, according to this theory, is so-called stellar crowding. For stars are not single children; they are born in groups, as so-called star clusters. At birth, these clusters are always of a similar size -- no matter whether they contain 100 star embryos -- or 100,000.
Consequently, at times of a high birth rate, space can be at a premium in star clusters. Astronomers call such galaxies that are particularly rich in mass "ultra-compact dwarf galaxies," or UCD's for short. In these, things are so tight that some of the young stars fuse during formation. Thus, more stars rich in mass than normal emerge. The "small to large" ratio is then only about 50 to 1. "In other words, we used to estimate the number of newly formed small stars by far too high," explains Dr. Carsten Weidner.
The researchers from Bonn and St. Andrews have now corrected the birth rates according to the projections of the stellar crowding theory. With an encouraging result -- they actually arrived at the number of stars that can be seen today.

Sport is a sure winner for space exploration and space colonisation schedule, for thousands of years villagers practiced and watched sport to solve arguements initially, then becoming a regular testoterone thrashing exercise, it would be a wonderful experience to practice on different gravity planets that perhaps pose different challenges for discipline and test of dexterity, for sure, hopefully the fairplay and gentleman rule accompanies what is probably the greatest invention of our races history. Hopefully everyone is at the right place at the right time to practice something they have genuinely earnt the entitlement to do.

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Acoustic Archaeology Yielding Mind-Tripping Tricks
Recently uncovered sound effects include a clapping echo that sounds like a jungle bird.

Tue Nov 16, 2010 08:00 AM ET

Acoustic archaeology is an emerging field that melds acoustical analysis and old-fashioned bone-hunting.
Ancient people created fun house-like temples that featured scary sound effects.
Some of the sites were likely built by people who took sensory-altering drugs.

Chavin stone art in the shape of a head, housed at the Museo De La Nacion in Lima, Peru. The 3,000 year-old Chavin culture produced tunnels and mazes with eerie sound effects.

Researchers are uncovering the secrets of ancient civilizations who built fun house-like temples that may have scared the pants off worshipers with scary sound effects, light shows and perhaps drug-induced psychedelic trips.
The emerging field of acoustic archaeology is a marriage of high-tech acoustic analysis and old-fashioned bone-hunting. The results of this scientific collaboration is a new understanding of cultures who used sound effects as entertainment, religion and a form of political control.

Miriam Kolar, a researcher at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research and Acoustics, has been studying the 3,000 year-old Chavin culture in the high plains of Peru. Kolar and her colleagues have been mapping a maze of underground tunnels, drains and hallways in which echoes don't sound like echoes.

"The structures could be physically disorienting and the acoustic environment is very different than the natural world," Kolar said. Ancient drawings from the Chavin culture show a people who were fascinated with sensory experiences -- ancient hippies if you will.

"The iconography shows people mixed with animal features in altered states of being," said Kolar, who is presenting her recent work at a conference in Cancun, Mexico this week. "There is peyote and mucus trails out of the nose indicative of people using psychoactive plant substances. They were taking drugs and having a hallucinogenic experience."

If that wasn't enough, the mazes at Chavin de Huantar also include air ducts that use sunlight to produce distorted shadows of the maze's human participants. And sound waves from giant marine shells found in the maze in 2001 may have produced a frequency that actually rattled the eyeballs of those peyote-using ancients, Kolar said.

"We consider sound to be important," said Kolar. "We've gathered a lot of data and we're finally starting to publish it."

The Chavin de Huantar site in Peru isn't the only place where sound played an important role. The Mayan rulers at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan also figured out how to use sound for crowd control. David Lubman, an acoustic engineer who has spent the past 12 years studying the Mayan site, says a strange bird-like echo from the Kukulkan temple was actually constructed on purpose.

"It's sort of spooky," Lubman said from Irvine, Calif. "It's not an ordinary echo."

Lubman's analysis compared the acoustic soundprint of the quetzal bird, which was revered by Mayans, to the sound of the echo at Chichen Itza. The two sounds matched.

Lublin said the secret is in the acoustic properties of the steep staircase on the temple's front.

Other new research presented at this week's Acoustical Society of America conference in Cancun shows that Mayan rulers figured out how to build a public address system in the site's giant ball court. That allowed kings to address hundreds of warriors and subjects without screaming.

In England, British researchers are using modern tools of acoustics to figure out what drumming noises may have sounded like to ancient visitors to Stonehenge.

In time, we all know whats right, we all know what a good existance is, it is the opportunity to breathe fresh good air, to watch beautiful women wearing tight skirts, to feel love, to touch, to have the opportunity to smell many different fragrances that create imagination, stories... Stories must be stories...

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Snoop Dogg / Ain't no fun

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