Monday, February 23, 2009

New Self Portrait of da Vinci discovered?

Check out what could turn out to be only the second authentic self portrait.

Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci discovered in Basilicata - Times Online
At one time thought to portray Galileo Galilei, the great astronomer, it shows a man in three-quarter profile wearing a hat with a feather in it. Mr Barbatelli, who found the painting by chance while researching the history of the Templar Knights and the First Crusade

Mr Barbatelli said: “I could see at once it was not Galileo. The posture, the style and technique were reminiscent of the portrait of Leonardo in the Uffizi”. He too stressed that the painting needed to be “subjected to more tests”, adding “we are only at the beginning”.

Milky Way still ringing from an impact 2 GYA

New Scientist has an article about a computer simulation created by Ivan Minchev of the University of Strasbourg, France of the distribution of velocities of billions of Milky Way stars.  From the model, a pattern of "ripples" emerged; streams of stars at high velocity. He suggests these stars were jolted by a shock wave from another galaxy merging with ours about 2 billion years ago.

[0902.1531] Is the Milky Way ringing? The hunt for high velocity streams
By matching the number and positions of the observed streams, we estimate that the Milky Way disk was strongly perturbed ~1.9 Gyr ago. This event could have been associated with Galactic bar formation.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dealing with EULA's

Step by step instructions on how to make sure your kitty will take the rap for any EULA violations.

The Agreeable Cat by Anne Loucks
How often have you been presented with unplesant click-through license agreements like this one from the Adobe website:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pride and Predator

Yep,  it seems to be exactly what you'd expect, providing Variety was not duped or hacked.  Perhaps not as compelling as recent literary adaptations of Austen, it does make you sort of wonder how Mr. Darcy will fare.  Probably a box office hit.

Rocket launches 'Predator' - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety
Elton John's Rocket Pictures hopes to make the first Jane Austen adaptation to which men will drag their girlfriends.

Will Clark is set to direct "Pride and Predator," which veers from the traditional period costume drama when an alien crash lands and begins to butcher the mannered protags, who suddenly have more than marriage and inheritance to worry about.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Neanderthals lactose Intolerant.

First draft of the neanderthal genome was announced.  Very little evidence for interbreeding with humans, and the following tidbit.

First draft of Neanderthal genome is unveiled - life - 12 February 2009 - New Scientist
The new sequences suggest that the Vindija Neanderthal lacked the ability to digest milk sugar in adulthood - a trait that became common among northern Europeans and Africans only in the last 10,000 years.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Oldest fossil animals found

From the Cryogenian period before the Cambrian.

Oldest Fossil Evidence for Animals Found | LiveScience
The ancient demosponges — probably measuring across no more than the width of a fork tine — were pinned down via fossilized steroids, called steranes, which are characteristic of the cell membranes of the sponges, rather than via direct fossils of the sponges themselves.

"The fact that we can detect sponge steranes at all suggests that by the Cryogenian Period [about 850 to 635 million years ago] demosponges were ecologically prominent and there were abundant demosponges living on the shallow sea floor," said geochemist Gordon D. Love of the University of California, Riverside, who headed up the analysis detailed in the Feb. 5 issue of the journal Nature.

Scorpion claws similar to Anomalocaris?

Did Anomalocaris really go extinct? 

Origin of claws seen in 390-million-year-old fossil
Scientists have puzzled over the origins of the paired grasping appendages found on the heads of scorpions and horseshoe crabs. The researchers suggest that Schinderhannes gives a hint. Their appendages may be an equivalent to those found in the ancient predatory ancestor, Anomalocaris — even though creatures with those head structures were thought to have become extinct by the middle of the Cambrian Period, 100 million years before Schinderhannes lived.

This was a clever try, but it still triggers the curse.

The Mummy X-posed: The face of an Ancient Egyptian priestess revealed after 3,000 years | Mail Online
She has lain undisturbed for nearly 3,000 years, sealed in a decorated coffin ready for her voyage to the underworld.

Now the face of Meresamun, a priestess who sang in the temples of Ancient Egypt hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, has been revealed to the world for the first time.

Using a hospital scanner, scientists were able to peer inside her closed casket, and see through the layers of linen that protected her mummified features.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Report card on US Infrastructure: D

The article breaks down the grade by each component of infrastructure.  Now, mind you, letting ASCE advise you on infrastructure spending levels is a little like letting a fox advise you on the security systems for your hen house.  Still, the picture speaks volumes.

U.S. infrastructure crumbling : Scientific American Blog
The nation's roads, bridges, levees, schools, water supply and other infrastructure are in such bad shape that it would take $2.2 trillion over five years to bring them up to speed. But even that huge chunk of change would only raise their grade from a "D" average to a "B," according to the latest "Report Card for America's Infrastructure" released today by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).