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Posts Tagged ‘eldavojohn’

Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago

November 13th, 2012 11:12 admin View Comments

Biotech

eldavojohn writes “Professor Gerald “Jerry” Crabtree of Stanford’s Crabtree Laboratory published a paper (PDF) that has appeared in two parts in Trends in Genetics. The paper opens with a very controversial suggestion: ‘I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions.’ From there, Crabtree speculates we’re on the decline of human intelligence and we have been for at least a couple millennia. His argument suggests agriculture and, following from that, cities, have allowed us to break free of some environmental forces on competitive genetic mutations — a la Mike Judge’s theory. However, the conclusion of the paper urges humans to keep calm and carry on, as any attempt to fix this genetic trend would almost certainly be futile and disturbing.”

Source: Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago

Telling the Truth In Today’s China

October 30th, 2012 10:30 admin View Comments

Censorship

eldavojohn writes “Inside the land of the Great Firewall censorship is rampant although rarely transparent. Foreign Policy has a lengthy but eyeopening recounting of what it’s like being an editor for the only officially sanctioned English business publication inside the most populated country on Earth. Eveline Chao of the magazine ‘China International Business’ writes in her piece ‘Me and My Censor’ about her censor named Snow, the three taboo T’s (Taiwan, Tibet, and Tiananmen), a bizarre government aversion to flags and how she was ‘offered red envelopes stuffed with cash at press junkets, sometimes discovered footprints on the toilet seats at work, and had to explain to the Chinese assistants more than once that they could not turn in articles copied word for word from existing pieces they found online.’ Anecdotes abound in this piece including the story of a photojournalist who ‘once ran a picture he’d taken in Taiwan alongside an article, but had failed to notice a small Taiwanese flag in the background. As a result, the entire staff of his newspaper had been immediately fired and the office shut down.’ “ (Read more, below.)

Source: Telling the Truth In Today’s China

Earthquakes Correlated With Texan Fracking Sites

October 3rd, 2012 10:14 admin View Comments

Earth

eldavojohn writes “A recent peer reviewed paper and survey by Cliff Frohlich of the University of Texas’ Institute for Geophysics reveals a correlation between an increase in earthquakes and the emergence of fracking sites in the Barnett Shale, Texas. To clarify, it is not the actual act of hydrofracking that induces earthquakes, but more likely the final process of injecting wastewater into the site, according to Oliver Boyd, a USGS seismologist. Boyd said, ‘Most, if not all, geophysicists expect induced earthquakes to be more likely from wastewater injection rather than hydrofracking. This is because the wastewater injection tends to occur at greater depth, where earthquakes are more likely to nucleate. I also agree [with Frohlich] that induced earthquakes are likely to persist for some time (months to years) after wastewater injection has ceased.’ Frohlich added, ‘Faults are everywhere. A lot of them are stuck, but if you pump water in there, it reduces friction and the fault slips a little. I can’t prove that that’s what happened, but it’s a plausible explanation.’ In the U.S. alone this correlation has been noted several times.”

Source: Earthquakes Correlated With Texan Fracking Sites

Illegal Downloading Now a Crime In Japan With Increased Penalties

October 1st, 2012 10:47 admin View Comments

Anime

eldavojohn writes “Although downloading songs without paying for them in Japan used to be a civil offense starting in 2010, it is now a crime with new penalties of up to two years in prison or fines of up to two million yen ($25,700). The lobbying group behind this push for more extreme penalties is none other than the RIAJ (the Japanese RIAA). The BBC notes this applies to both music and video downloads which may put anime studios in a particularly uncomfortable position.”

Source: Illegal Downloading Now a Crime In Japan With Increased Penalties

Pakistan’s PM Demands International Blasphemy Laws From UN

September 24th, 2012 09:55 admin View Comments

Censorship

eldavojohn writes “An article published in Pakistan’s Daily Times contains several quotes from Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf indicating his intent to push for international blasphemy laws in both the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (57 countries). These comments came shortly after Pakistan’s “Day of Love for the Prophet” turned into riots that left 19 people dead and, of course, this all follows the extended trailers of “Innocence of Muslims” being translated. Questionable circumstances surround who is prosecuted under these ‘blasphemy laws’ and what kind of fear they instill in Pakistan’s minorities. The UN’s Human Rights Charter mentions protection from “religious intolerance” but also in the same sentence “freedom of opinion and expression.”"

Source: Pakistan’s PM Demands International Blasphemy Laws From UN

Oracle To Pay Google $1 Million For Lawyer Fees In Failed Patent Case

September 5th, 2012 09:35 admin View Comments

Google

eldavojohn writes “You may recall the news that Google would not be paying Oracle for Oracle’s intellectual property claims against the search giant. Instead, Google requested $4.03 million for lawyer fees in the case. The judge denied some $2.9 million of those fees and instead settled on $1.13 million as an appropriate number for legal costs. Although this is relative peanuts to the two giants, Groklaw breaks the ruling down into more minute detail for anyone curious on what risks and repercussions are involved with patent trolling.”

Source: Oracle To Pay Google $1 Million For Lawyer Fees In Failed Patent Case

Book Review: Why Does the World Exist?

September 3rd, 2012 09:00 admin View Comments

Books

eldavojohn writes “For quite some time humans have struggled to answer the question why there is anything rather than nothing. Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist? tackles such questions in the form of a journey. After laying a brief groundwork, Holt travels from leading prominent philosopher to curmudgeonly physicist to reserved theologian, visiting each and relaying the juiciest parts of his transcripts to the reader. In doing so, this book takes on an interesting form with a meaty dense center to each chapter (the actual dialogues) surrounded by the light and fluffy bread of Holt’s expert writing about the settings, weather and food of his travels. While this consequently lacks the characteristics of a heady hard hitting original philosophical work, these sandwiches should prove quite palatable for most readers. Why Does the World Exist? criss-crosses the etymological, epistemological, theological and philosophical aspects of its title while remaining a fairly easy read.” Keep reading for the rest of eldavojohn’s review.

Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story
author Jim Holt
pages 320
publisher Liveright
rating 9/10
reviewer eldavojohn
ISBN 978-0871404091
summary An existential detective story.

Source: Book Review: Why Does the World Exist?

Gamma-Ray Photon Observations Indicate Space-Time Is Smooth

August 31st, 2012 08:42 admin View Comments

Space

eldavojohn writes “Seven billion light years away (seven billion years ago), a gamma-ray burst occurred. The observation of four Fermi-detected gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) has led physicists to speculate that space-time is indeed smooth (abstract and a pre-publication PDF both available). A trio of photons were observed to arrive very close together, and the observers believe that these are from the same burst, which means there was nothing diffracting their paths from the gamma-ray burst to Earth. This observation doesn’t prove that space-time is infinitesimally smooth like Einstein predicted, but does indicate it’s smooth for a range of parameters. Before we can totally discount the theory that space-time is comprised of Planck-scale pixels, we must now establish that the proposed pixels don’t disrupt the photons in ways independent of their wavelengths. For example, this observation did not disprove the possibility that the pixels exert a subtler ‘quadratic’ influence over the photons, nor could it determine the presence of birefringence — an effect that depends on the polarization of the light particles.”

Source: Gamma-Ray Photon Observations Indicate Space-Time Is Smooth

Revisiting the Macintosh ROM Easter Egg

August 23rd, 2012 08:13 admin View Comments

Hardware Hacking

eldavojohn writes “NYCResistor has published photos of what they call ‘Ghosts in the ROM‘ after dumping Apple Mac SE ROM images from a roadside Motorolla 68000 era Macintosh and looking at all the data (they mention an Easter egg reference to this from 1999). They go into some nice detail about the strategy for extracting this data from a discarded unit and noticing structure. There’s also other data that they weren’t able to identify which causes one to wonder how many other Easter eggs are lying about in various ROM chips and what modern Easter eggs must be shipping with software/hardware today.”

Source: Revisiting the Macintosh ROM Easter Egg

Mirrors Finished For James Webb Space Telescope

August 21st, 2012 08:10 admin View Comments

NASA

eldavojohn writes “On August 15th, sendoff ceremonies were held at Ball Aerospace (subcontractor to Northrop Grumman) for the 18 gold-coated, ultrasmooth, 4.2-foot (1.3 meters) hexagonal beryllium primary mirror segments that will comprise the 21.3-foot (6.5 m) primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Over 90% of the back material was taken out of these mirrors to make them light enough so that 18 could be launched into space where they must operate at minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 240 degrees Celsius). The mirrors will be adjusted by computer controlled actuators that are vital to JWST producing high-quality sharp images. The tennis court sized JWST will reside at L2 and is hyped to allow us to see ‘back to the beginning of time.’ NASA has provided a video of the computer animated metamorphosis with many more videos at the JWST site.”

Source: Mirrors Finished For James Webb Space Telescope

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