nedeľa 2. mája 2010

The human brain is not that special

"A British-led study has found striking similarities among the human brain, the nervous system of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans and computer chips. A team of U.K., U.S. and German neuroscientists and computer experts led by University of Cambridge Professor Edward Bullmore compared the way the systems are organized and found all three have the same networking principles. The researchers said they found all three share two basic properties: All have the same architecture, with the same patterns repeating at different scales; and all show what's known as Rentian scaling -- a rule used to describe the relationship between the number of elements in a given area and the number of links between them."

"Study: The human brain may not be special." Space Daily
The human brain may not be special

"Josh Emery, research assistant professor with the earth and planetary sciences department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has found evidence of water ice and organic material on the asteroid 24 Themis. This evidence supports the idea that asteroids could be responsible for bringing water and organic material to Earth."

"Scientists find evidence of water ice on asteroid's surface." Space Daily
Water ice on asteroid

"Two trends are emerging for future renewable electricity. In the first, local solar, wind or biomass plants will produce more energy for small communities or single homes. In the second, large amounts of electricity will be generated by solar power stations in desert areas or extensive offshore wind farms, and delivered over long distances to densely populated areas. But how can electrical power be delivered over long distances without large losses? The solution to this problem is direct current. When electrical power at voltages from 100,000 to 1,000,000 volts is routed through high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission cables, energy losses are significantly reduced."

"How is electrical power carried across the sea." Space Daily
Electrical power transmission across the sea

sobota 24. apríla 2010

Orangutan Magic Show!

Sun - Solar Flare

"Soon after the instruments opened their doors, the Sun began performing for SDO with this beautiful prominence eruption. This AIA data is from March 30, 2010, showing a wavelength band that is centered around 304 �. This extreme ultraviolet emission line is from singly ionized Helium, or He II, and corresponds to a temperature of approx. 50,000 degrees Celsius."

utorok 20. apríla 2010

Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupting

A volcano eruption (Eyjafjallajökull) in Iceland has been causing a lot of havoc in the Northern Hemisphere in the past week, especially in Europe. It has grounded flights all across the continent and many people are stuck and can't get back home or to their destination. The interesting thing is that flights can get off in the main Iceland airports, since the ash is being carried south and the main airport for example in Keflavik is located more to the north. The last time the volcano erupted in the 19th century, it continued on erupting for more than two years from 1821 to 1823.

nedeľa 11. apríla 2010

Secret rivers in Antarctica

Antarctica is an interesting continent. Once, millions of years ago, it actually had a lush landscape. However now most of it is a frozen wasteland of ice. Under the ice is a different story though. There are lakes and rivers flowing and they might even contain life.

"Antarctica's buried lakes are connected by a network of rivers moving water far beneath the surface, say UK scientists. It was thought the sub-glacial lakes had been completely sealed for millions of years, enabling unique species to evolve in them. Writing in the journal Nature, experts say international plans to drill into the lakes may now have to be reviewed. Any attempts to drill into one body of water risks contaminating others.

"What this paper shows is that not only could you contaminate a lake, you could contaminate the whole drainage system," lead author Duncan Wingham, of University College London, told the BBC News website."

"Secret rivers found in Antarctica." BBC News
Secret rivers in Antarctica

Czecho-Slovakia national anthem

Soviet Union anthem

European Union Concours for Administrators

There are actually some resources on the web for people trying to pass the concours for the European Union. Here's a webpage with discussions.

"So I won't be a Commission official." Jon Worth Blog
So I won't be a Commission official

sobota 10. apríla 2010

How to become a European Commission official

The European Commission is a pretty powerful body and a job there, especially at the administrator level is a pretty prestigious thing. However it's also hard to get. To get on the reserve list (basically a waiting list) you have to pass through 3 rounds of exams. After each round a large number of the applicants are eliminated.

The first round was a computer round, where you did 3 tests: a test on EU knowledge, verbal test and a numerical test. (in your main foreign language: English, French, German) Then the second round is a grueling 6 hour marathon, where you do written tests on your specialty. So if you're applying as an economist, you do the test on economics. You do a test on economics theory and then write essays on economics topis, one in your foreign language and one in your native language. The third round is an oral interview with a panel of interviewers and they can ask you all kinds of questions from basic CV and personal history questions, to questions about the EU or economics theory (if applying as an economist).

And then if you pass that then you are on the reserve list. So by passing the tests it's all smooth sailing to a job? Not exactly, you can be on the reserve list for years and aren't guaranteed a job and even if they call you for an interview, you still have to compete for the position with a large group of other applicants.

They are now reforming this system and are going to set up a new system. Hopefully they will still renew the old reserve lists as there are still many people on them.

"EU to speed up recruitment in global 'war for talent'." Euractiv
EU to speed up recruitment

utorok 6. apríla 2010

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse appeared first in this cartoon, Plane Crazy on 15 May 1928.

The first Mickey Mouse cartoon with sound was Steamboat Willie, which appeared on 18 November, 1928.

And the very first cartoon where Mickey Mouse actually spoke was Karnival Kid from 1929.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is probably one of the best known areas of South Africa. It's at the total east of the country on the border with Mozambique. (the park is actually joined by a similar park on the Mozambican side of the border; but it's nature, borders are artificial) There are hundreds of kilometers of roads, paved or unpaved throughout the park on which you can cruise in your vehicle and try to spot some animals. Sometimes you're lucky and see different types of animals all the time and sometimes you can drive for hours without seeing anything. The most common animals you'll see are the different types of antilopes, but you can usually also come across elephants, giraffes, rhinos and sometimes even lions or hyenas. There are many and many different types of animals there...

Washing Machine for Dogs!

What will people come up with next? A washing machine for dogs! The Japanese have come up with another cooky idea! A washing machine for dogs! Seriously

"Washing machine for dogs." BBC News
Washing machine for dogs

Another new human species might have co-existed with modern humans

Denisova Cave, where the bones were found

And a new find in Siberia. Supposedly another human species co-existed with modern humans just a few tens of thousands of years ago.

""Scientists have identified a previously unknown type of ancient human through analysis of DNA from a finger bone unearthed in a Siberian cave.
The extinct "hominin" (human-like creature) lived in Central Asia between 48,000 and 30,000 years ago.
An international team has sequenced genetic material from the fossil showing that it is distinct from that of Neanderthals and modern humans.
Details of the find, dubbed "X-woman", have been published in Nature journal.
Ornaments were found in the same ground layer as the finger bone, including a bracelet.""

"DNA identifies new ancient human dubbed 'X-woman'" BBC News
New human species

Homo Floresiensis

Human evolution is a fascinating topic. Until recently it has been thought that the last two species of humans to co-exist were the Neanderthals and modern humans. The last Neanderthals probably died out 28 thousand years ago, after having co-existed with Homo Sapiens Sapiens, or modern humans, our ancestors, for thousands of years. However recently there have been some exciting discoveries. One of the most exciting has been the discovery of a potentially new human species, that possibly survived on a remote Indonesian island, Flores, until 12 thousand years ago and maybe later!

Homo Floresiensis skull

"New evidence has emerged to show that an extinct, diminutive people known as "hobbits" from the Indonesian island of Flores belonged to a new species of primitive humans and not modern pygmies.
The 1 metre (3ft) tall, 30kg (65lb) people are believed to have roamed the Indonesian island of Flores, perhaps up to 8,000 years ago.
The new anatomical evidence, reported in today's Nature magazine, is based on the examination of lower limbs and especially an almost complete left foot and parts of the right. It shows that the species walked upright, like other known hominids, and there were five toes, as in other primates, but the big toe was stubby, more like a chimp's.
Controversy has been rife ever since the discovery of the species, formally named Homo floresiensis, was announced in 2004. The single skull was unusually small, indicating its brain was no bigger than a chimpanzee's. Some scientists argued that the species was nothing more than modern pygmy humans deformed by genetic or pathological disorders.
But in light of the new evidence, scientists believe it is unlikely that traits such as the small brain, primitive shoulders and wrists as previously reported "were simply a consequence of 'island dwarfing'.""

"Indonesian 'hobbits' were distinct species, say researchers." The Guardian
Homo Floresiensis a new species of ancient human

Mars 500

New wave of reality show is upon us! Now a bunch of people will spend 500 days locked in a small room in Russia to simulate a voyage to Mars. Imagine the boredom!

"The Mars500 facility, which is located on the IBMP site in Moscow, comprises four sealed interconnected modules. The total interior volume is about 550 cubic metres. There are no windows. The walls in the living quarters have been covered with a wooden panelling to make them feel slightly less austere. Another module holds the Red Planet landscape. Looking after the participants' needs will be a mission control-room sited just outside the containers. But the experiment's designers are determined to make the training exercise as realistic as possible, so they will introduce a time delay in communications after two months. Because it can take about 20 minutes for a message to travel from Mars to Earth, it will take this amount of time in the simulation, also."

"Cosmonauts ready for Mars test." BBC News
Mars flight simulation

nedeľa 4. apríla 2010

Gorillas learn sign language for communication

Some researchers have taught some of the great apes to communicate! They can't reproduce sounds, but they do know a lot of signs in sign language.

Self-recognition in apes:

sobota 3. apríla 2010

Weird Fruit

160 Greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Quotes

Large Hadron Collider Experiment Live!

The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland does some pretty cool experiments. They recently had a webcast of one of their experiments. (30 March 2010)

"The first high-energy collisions were achieved at 13.06 today at all four points of the LHC ring. Collisions occurred after a few attempts at injecting and ramping beams in the morning. Before the collisions, there was a mixture of excitement, expectation, fear and apprehension in the CERN Control Centre. Nobody had ever attempted to make two proton beams collide at 3.5 TeV before. Only Nature produces collisions like this routinely, in the processes that yield cosmic radiation, but in a way that makes it very difficult to extract meaningful data."

"LHC First Physics : First collisions in the LHC's experiments, afternoon of March the 30th, 2010." Large Hadron Collider
Large Hadron Collider Experiment Video

Here's a short tour and description of the LHC.

"The Large Hadron Collider Introduction." Large Hadron Collider
Large Hadron Collider Introduction
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