Astronomers Solve Mystery of Black Hole Jets?

While we may never know what it looks like inside a black hole, astronomers recently obtained one of the closest views yet.

The sighting allowed scientists to confirm theories about how these giant cosmic sinkholes spew out jets of particles traveling nearly the speed of light.

Below is an artist’s rendition of one black hole in the BL Lacertae galaxy that spews out jets of charged particles accelerated by corkscrew-like magnetic fields.

Black Hole Jets

A Plethora of News Links: 4/29/2008

 News for Geeks


How I Played Games for Science: East Carolina University’s Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies has announced the results of a PopCap underwritten study claiming that casual games have a demonstrative affect at relieving stress and improving moods.

The academic group underwent a “six-month long, randomized, controlled study” measuring the impact of three PopCap games — Bejeweled 2, Peggle and Bookworm Adventures.

Record Sales Expected For Grand Theft Auto IV: Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., is about to launch the latest version of Grand Theft Auto GTA IV. It’s expected to break records and pull in about $400M in just a single week.


With Cray, Intel seeks greater supercomputer share: Intel is ratcheting up the competition with smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices by joining forces w/ supercomputer maker Cray, which for the past six years has used only AMD chips in its high-performance machines.

Apple powers up iMac with Penryn processor: Apple on Monday refreshed its iMac line with faster Intel (NSDQ: INTC) Core 2 Duo processors and an optional more powerful graphics processor on its high-end 24-inch model.

The new iMac is available in three basic configurations: a 20-inch 2.4-GHz model ($1,199), a 20-inch 2.66-GHz model, and a 24-inch 2.8- GHz model. The 2.4-GHz iMac comes with an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT (128-MB memory) while the 2.66-GHz and 2.8-GHz models come with an ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO (256-MB memory).


Nokia’s New Phones: Built For Comfort And Speed: Nokia has just announced three new additions to its lineup, all boast a gorgeous jet black finish and quad-band GSM reception. The Nokia 6600 Slide, 6600 Fold, and 3600 Slide all fall under the fashion phone category, thanks to the smooth rounded lines and stylized directional pad.

Cut your gadgets‘ appetite for electricity: In honor of the month that brings us Earth Day, here are some tips on cutting down the amount of electricity you use to power your gadgets


Using Nanotech to Shut Down Troublesome Genes: MIT scientists say they’ve found a new way to silence disease-causing genes in specific tissues using RNA interference

‘Frankenfoods’ Gain Popularity During Food Crisis: Europe has pushed back for quite a while, is the world ready to think seriously about cheaper bio-engineered grains?

Forget About Asteroids Colliding w/ Earth, Here Comes Mercury

Solar System - Planets

Bad news:

Computer simulations of long-term planetary motion for our solar systems reveals that Jupiter may eventually destabilize Mercury’s orbit over time. Mercury already has an eccentric orbit and it’s entirely possible influences from larger bodies could accentuate that orbit to the point where it overlaps with Venus.

And if that happens, the smaller planet (Mercury) would careen off and all bets are off at that point, Earth could be a likely recipient of a catastrophic kissing of planets and I’m sure you know what that means for civilization.

Good news:

There is only a 1% chance of this occurring before Sol balloons into a red giant billions of years from now, but still…wouldn’t that be cool?

Sky & Telescope has the doomsday scenario announced by the Paris Observatory and University of California, Santa Cruz.

[via fark]

Lost Producers Give a Few Hints To Popular Mechanics

Lost - Hadron Collider

Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse tell Popular Mechanics they’ve been following the development of the Large Hadron Collider above (right) as they lay out Lost‘s time-travel plot for the rest of this season.

Could one of the Dharma Initiative’s stations (left) create a mini black hole into the future?

Note: One of the safety concerns of this collider constructed in Switzerland is that it may actually generate micro black holes that could lead to a doomsday scenario, though this claim is not widely adopted by the scientific community.

T-Rex ‘Tissue’ May Be the Real Deal After All


Scientists are puzzled by the purported discovery of something they thought couldn’t possibly still exist — bits of soft tissue from a Tyrannosaurus rex bone from Utah. Fossil-hunters found the matter two years ago, and skeptics have challenged its authenticity ever since.

But now there’s new evidence suggesting the tissue is the real thing. They’ve successfully retrieved a tiny sequence of protein from the 68 million year old fossil.

Listen to the 3 minute NPR podcast on the find.

Shutdown Day 2008

Shutdown Day

Shutdown Day 2008 is your opportunity to be part of one of the biggest global experiments ever to take place on the Internet. The idea behind Shutdown Day is to find out how many people can go without a computer for one whole day, and what will happen if we all participate; the initiative was started by Denis Bystrov and Ashutosh Rajekar, both of Montreal, Canada.

I think we can all agree that being asked to go without your computer for a day is a big ask, especially if you’re addicted to e-mail, IM’ing, surfing the web. But if you could find some other interesting activities to do for just a day other than sitting at your PC, you may discover something about yourself and your priorities.

Here’s a youtube video they produced, pitching the event:

[youtube qbn5uRuIDm8]

Bigfoot in the News


News on our favorite 7 foot primate:

– At the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, John Green lays out his case for the authenticity of the creature seen in the famous 1967 photo above by asking  you to “Notice the Arms“.

– While the trackers didn’t actually see or hear the beast, Bigfoot tracks were spotted in West Virginia.

– Man charges Bigfoot with molestation. The AP video on this story below:

[youtube jX1DaIjrhRU]

Colleges are Targets of E-Mail Scam


Thousands of users at many colleges this month have been targets of a phishing attack, sending network admins scrambling.  This broad attack at higher education is turning many user accounts of the university networks into zombies, so if you’re a recipient of a Viagra advert from a college kid, now you know.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has the details and the weird awareness campaign by Louisiana State University.

Skype Introduces ‘Unlimited’ World Calling Plan

Maintaining its free computer-to-computer video, voice, and instant messaging, Skype announced today an “unlimited” €8.95 monthly calling plan for connecting to international mobile and landlines.

As usual with network providers, “unlimited” means limited to 10,000 minutes per month, which Skype says is more than 5 hours a day, but the flat fee allows users to call any of 34 countries.

Battlestar Galactica’s Secret Cylons Tell All


If you have the Sci-Fi channel, are you watching the last season of BSG in recent weeks?

It’s all about the ‘final 5’ cylons, 4 of which were revealed at the end of the last season. Well, io9 has a private Q&A with the 4 and some secrets are revealed (spoilers).

Learn more about the eyepatch, crying during sex, hair loss and much more, some of it silly.

Check out io9 and their Sci-Fi BSG tell all.

Microsoft: "We took out Storm botnet"

 Windows Security Sheild

In malware news today, Computerworld is reporting that Microsoft took credit for crushing the Storm botnet, saying that the malware search-and-destroy tool it distributes to Windows users disinfected so many bots that the hackers threw in the towel. Its malware scanner cleaned more than 500k PCs infected with the bot in ’07

You can read this to mean the hackers squeezed out as much money as possible from Storm and are working on v2.

In other related malware/adware news:

Some users may like adware

China continues to face severe botnet problem

Preparing For The Vegas Star Trek Convention


This August is the 41st anniversary of Star Trek and is also the yearly occurrence of the Star Trek convention in Vegas. This is the big one as far as the worldwide ST cons go. I don’t get out to many cons but 2 years ago I attended the Stargate convention in Vancouver, BC where the show is filmed, next year it’ll probably be Dragon Con that gets my convention $$$.

Anyway, I have tickets, hotel, will be driving to the con in 4 months and I’m starting to look for additional things I can do to prepare. Like map out the activities I plan on attending, photo ops I want to sign up for, Klingon Language to learn, autographs to obtain, contests to enter on-site.

OK, I made up the one on learning the Klingon alphabet, it’s too much strain on my throat, you have to make a lot of thick throat gagging sounds to get it right. See for yourself:

Klingon alphabet

Welp, maybe you can’t really tell by looking at the glyphs but you get the point, it’s not happening. I’ll just wimp out and read the English translations of any Klingon text, thank you very much.

Speaking of manly-men, how much of a man or geek do you have to be though to get one of these and read it:

It’s advertised as:

Prepared by the Klingon Language Institute, The Klingon Hamlet presents full English and Klingon versions of Shakespeare’s play side by side. Only experienced Klingon speakers will be able to fully appreciate the nuances of the Klingon-language version, but for anyone who has dabbled in the language, this is an excellent opportunity to acquire large chunks of authentic text to practice on.

South Koreans Clone Their Sniffer Dog


South Korea reckons that ‘Chase’, a Canadian Labrador Retriever is the BEST SNIFFER DOG around. So instead of buddying him up with newbie dogs to transfer his wealth of knowledge and skills, they did the next best thing…they made 7 more ‘Chases’ by cloning the mutt.

Apparently the dogs are doing well in their training and their genetic qualities look promising. If everything works out, they report for duty in June 2008.

On a side note:

Hurray me! I’ve had that dog icon above for over 2 years and I finally have an opportunity to use it. I think this is going to be a good week after all!