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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
FREE WATER. Not quite, but it's important to remember that simple access to clean drinking water simply isn't available in much of the world; economies live or die by it, as do people; "drought" is still one of the worst things that can befall a land.
A water desalination system using carbon nanotube-based membranes could significantly reduce the cost of purifying water from the ocean. The technology could potentially provide a solution to water shortages both in the United States, where populations are expected to soar in areas with few freshwater sources, and worldwide, where a lack of clean water is a major cause of disease.
The new membranes, developed by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), could reduce the cost of desalination by 75 percent, compared to reverse osmosis methods used today, the researchers say.
Not to mention this benefit, as well:
The membranes, which sort molecules by size and with electrostatic forces, could also separate various gases, perhaps leading to economical ways to capture carbon dioxide emitted from power plants, to prevent it from entering the atmosphere.
Want to make an impact on the greenhouse effect, and global warning (some guy has been going on and on about that lately)? This might be able to have a tremendous affect eventually.
(Yes, maybe; how soon this might translate into commercially available products, and whether it will at all is anyon'e guess for now -- but, still, hope is better than no hope, and we're all about the early warning at your Amygdala.)
A reconfigurable chip developed by ChaoLogix in Gainesville, FL, makes it possible to morph a circuit from one type into another in an instant. Having the ability to effectively redesign chips an unlimited number of times after they've been manufactured could make chips faster and more robust. And, ultimately, it could bring down the cost of producing integrated circuits, by reducing the need to make expensive, custom-built chips.
The novel chips work by exploiting inherent "chaotic" behavior within the integrated circuits, enabling a single, simple circuit to behave like any kind of logic gate. Such a chip could be transformed, for example, from a graphics card into a memory chip and back again -- in just two computer clock cycles. "We have blurred the line between software and hardware," says William Ditto, chief technology officer of ChaoLogix, which was spun out of research at the University of Florida.
Rather than using programmable interconnects, ChaoLogix's approach is to use fixed circuits and instead exploit their inherent "noise" or chaos to make them produce different outputs without changing them. Normally, the circuits on a chip consist of arrangements of transistors designed to behave like a specific type of digital logic gate, such as a NAND and NOR gate. But if the inputs voltages to these circuits fall below certain thresholds, their behaviors become chaotic, producing undesirable outputs.
ChaoLogix's trick is to put these chaotic states to use. They've designed a logic gate circuit that's capable of behaving like any kind of logic gate -- if the input voltages are just right.
Its ultimate quarry is Pluto, but the New Horizons spacecraft snapped a picture of a "nearby" asteroid this week, giving mission controllers practice at tracking fast-moving objects.
The five-kilometre-wide asteroid lies in the main asteroid belt and is named 2002 JF56. The closest New Horizons came to the asteroid was at 0406 GMT on 13 June - but the two were still more than 100,000 kilometres apart.
"The primary objective of the asteroid observation is to test the ability of the New Horizons spacecraft to track a rapidly moving object," says mission project scientist Hal Weaver at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, US.
This provides good practice for the speedy Pluto flyby in 2015, Weaver told New Scientist. Before that, on 28 February 2007, New Horizons will make its closest pass of Jupiter, but the gaseous giant and its moons will be moving much slower than the asteroid, relative to the spacecraft.
The first set of observations, on 11 June, were taken with MVIC from about 3.36 million kilometres away. The result is a barely discernible gray smudge. The next day, MVIC took another gaze at the asteroid from a distance of 1.34 million kilometres. The object appears six times brighter than the day before.
Finally, beginning one hour from its closest approach, Ralph began capturing both color images and infrared spectra of the asteroid. That data must be compressed before it is sent back to the ground next week.
"Ralph" is not some guy, but the what the on-board controller has been dubbed, if you were wondering.
A newly discovered asteroid in Neptune's orbit indicates the existence of a much larger, but as-yet-unseen, cloud of rocks in that region. The asteroids in Neptune's orbit might even outnumber those in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the new research suggests.
The asteroid was discovered by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, both in the US. They used Carnegie's Magellan-Baade 6.5-metre telescope in Chile and the 8.2-metre Gemini Telescope.
It is one of four known Neptunian "Trojan" asteroids, which orbit in lockstep with the planet. Two of the Trojans were discovered by Sheppard and Trujillo in 2004 and 2005.
The asteroids orbit 60°, or about 5 billion kilometres, ahead of Neptune on its circular orbit around the Sun, which is a gravitationally stable location called a Lagrange point. But the newly-found asteroid is unique in that its orbit is tilted 25° relative to the plane of the solar system.
How planets acquire their Trojans has been much discussed by researchers but the high tilt in this case favours a theory called "freeze-in" capture, which is thought to have also allowed Jupiter to acquire its asteroids.
During the evolution of the gas planets, their orbits were erratic and small bodies in the solar system moved about chaotically. But as the planets' orbits stabilised, the strength of gravitationally stable regions in front of and behind the planet's orbit grew.
"At that moment, whatever objects were at the right place at the right time – in the Trojan zone – were frozen," says Eugene Chiang, at the University of California Berkeley, who discovered the first Neptune Trojan.
Another unique feature is that all four Neptune Trojans appear relatively red, suggesting they all have a similar origin. The tint is similar to Jupiter Trojans, irregular satellites and maybe even comets, but is distinct from some of the farther-flung Kuiper Belt Objects.
No asteroid suspenders have yet been found in our solar system, but the search continues. Our system needs to be prepared! We must not be caught with our pants down, Amygdala warns.
Your amygdala gets better as it gets older. Good news!
The brain recordings also found that a region associated with emotion control – called the medial prefrontal cortex – was more active in elderly people when they saw fearful faces than in younger people. This region has been shown to inhibit another brain area called the amygdala, which prompts fear.
The exact cause of this difference between young and old brains remains unclear, but experiments in rodents have suggested that chronically high levels of stress hormones called glucocorticoids can reduce medial prefrontal cortex activity. “I think all these structural changes in the [human] brain are an impact of these hormones over time,” says Jason Radley at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, US.
There may also be an evolutionary advantage to mellowing with age, suggests Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, US. “I don’t think it’s just about going to your grave feeling happier about life.” She says our hunter-gatherer ancestors may have benefited from the presence of happier elders with a calm approach to settling disputes within groups.
“There would have been a tremendous advantage to have older people in the group with an optimistic view,” she adds.
I'm not sure I'm managing that more "optimistic view," somehow, but occasionally. The main focus of the story:
Elderly people may be better at perceiving happiness and worse at perceiving fear, a new study suggests. The finding supports the idea that people do mellow with age.
Polani's tip for the best matches to watch at RoboCup is the four-legged league. Teams are made up of four of Sony's Aibo robotic dogs, now discontinued to the dismay of researchers. They play on a 6 x 4 metre pitch and use their colour vision to identify the ball, goals and other features.
There are also two leagues for humanoid bots, classed as either Kidsize, less than 60 centimetres tall, or TeenSize, which is upwards of 60 cm. This level of football is a bit like the Aibo league in 1998, says Polani. "They are at an earlier stage in development because they have a bigger challenge," he says, adding that one of the biggest hurdles is materials.
The final two of the big soccer titles up for grabs are the middle- and small-size leagues for wheeled robots in teams of four or five. The play in these competitions is more similar to the Aibo league because the basic technology is more simple.
There are also additional prizes to be won for less sporty challenges:
RoboCupRescue sets a task for robots designed to help in emergency situations; RoboCup@Home uses a living room and kitchen set to test domestic robots at chores like fetching and carrying and following a human, and; RoboCupJunior is for teams of young students who have worked on robots designed to perform rescues, play soccer, or dance in formation to music.
[...] A record number of entrants, 440 teams from 36 countries, have come to Bremen, Germany, to compete in the various leagues of the tournament: some on two legs, others on four feet and yet more on various combinations of wheels. And although only one team can win the real-life FIFA World Cup in Germany, there will be 33 world champions at the end of the robot competition.
"The quality of playing has advanced tremendously," says Riedmiller. "Not only are the robots now capable of kicking the ball high, they also have developed a sense for tactics and the different roles of attackers and defenders."
This year, the Brainstormers are one of the favourites in the middle-sized league for 'players' up to 50 centimetres in diameter and weighing no more than 40 kilograms. In its opening match the team thrashed its Japanese rivals, the 2005 champion team 'Eigen', by five goals to nil. Its main opponents on the road to glory are now the Free University of Berlin's 'FU-Fighters', although pundits refuse to rule out promising newcomers from Japan, the Netherlands and Portugal.
Who says I don't care about sports? It's just human sports that bore me.
It may be useful to feed drunks coffee after all, though not to immediately get them less drunk.
Drinking coffee may shield the liver from the worst ravages of alcohol, a study of more than 125,000 people suggests. The risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver dropped with each cup of coffee they drank per day.
"Consuming coffee seems to have some protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis, and the more coffee a person consumes the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalised or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis," says Arthur Klatsky at Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Programme in Oakland, California, US, who led the study.
I'm drinking coffee right now! I have a pot made! I'm going to have another pot after that!
The researchers identified how many of these people had gone on to develop cirrhosis – a total of 330 people, including 199 with alcoholic cirrhosis.
People drinking one cup of coffee per day were, on average, 20% less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis. For people drinking two or three cups the reduction was 40%, and for those drinking four or more cups of coffee a day the reduction in risk was 80%.
No word on the result of putting whiskey in your coffee.
Astronomers have spotted a huge cloud of fiery gas speeding through a distant cluster of galaxies. They say it is the biggest object of its kind ever seen.
The gas ball contains more matter than a 1,000 billion Suns, and is plunging through the Abell 3266 cluster of galaxies at about 750 kilometres per second. The fireball is about 3 million light years across, roughly 5 billion times the diameter of the Solar System, and reaches temperatures of tens of millions of degrees.
"The size and velocity of this gas ball is truly fantastic," says Alexis Finoguenov, a physicist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and one of the scientists who made the find.
Finoguenov says that the fireball is likely to become a massive building block in the growing cluster, which contains hundreds of galaxies. The discovery is described in the Astrophysical Journal1.
The giant gas ball is mostly made from hydrogen, but contains much larger amounts of heavier elements than the surrounding cluster, suggesting that it is a stranger to the area.
The ball probably originated in a subcluster of galaxies that has merged into Abell 3266, says Norbert Schartel, who leads XMM-Newton's scientific team from the European Space Astronomy Centre at Villafranca del Castillo, Spain. The fast-moving molecules of gas keep the ball's temperature so high that it cannot collapse to form individual stars, he adds.
Why, then, does the superheated fireball not fly apart? According to Mark Henriksen, also a member of the research team at UMBC, the answer is dark matter.
Hey, it's the fill-in answer of contemporary physics, so why not?
The really really really small news: one electron, two electrons:
A device capable of counting the individual electrons in an electric current, by feeding them through a pair of quantum dots, has been developed by scientists in Japan. The device can even spot the "backscattering" that occurs when electrons travel the wrong way through a circuit.
Toshima Fujisawa and colleagues at NTT Basic Research Laboratories in Atsugi, Japan, created a circuit incorporating a two quantum dots - semiconducting crystals just a few nanometres in diameter - which only let a single electron pass through at a time.
After switching the current on, they used another nanoscale device, called a quantum point contact, to measure the charge contained within each quantum dot. This revealed whether it contained an electron or not. Microsecond measurements
By taking measurements every 20 microseconds the researchers could count the flow of individual electrons as they passed through the quantum dots, and also determine the direction in which they were moving.
Especially useful for very very very small people. Further:
[...] Independent experts say the device could be used to study the fundamental behaviour of electrons and as critical components inside quantum computers, which must exploit quantum physics to perform calculations.
"These are fundamental subatomic particles," says Alexander Rimberg, a physicist at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, US, who was not involved with the work. "To the extent that we want to be able to harness the power of quantum mechanics for something practical, we need to be able to manipulate and study these fundamental particles."
A professor at the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo has issued an editorial apology for what he called "exaggerated explosive force" linked to reports of the recent meteorite strike in Norway.
The story of the meteorite impact in northern Norway made international headlines, no doubt due to the comparison with the force of the atom bomb detonated over Hiroshima.
In an editorial at Norwegian science news site forskning.no, Professor Kaare Aksnes said it was regrettable that this comparison had been made, and that it was extremely exaggerated. Aksnes also said it was regrettable that the statement had apparently emanated from the Institute.
Aksnes goes on to explain that a meteor capable of a Hiroshima-like impact would almost completely burn up as it entered Earth's atmosphere, and that the remnants would hit the earth far too slowly - though impacts of that intensity have of course occurred. He estimates the North Troms impact to have been comparable to "a powerful conventional bomb".
Or, why your Amygdala tends to try to avoid rushing to post early items that best await confirmation.
Soldiers are trained to follow orders in combat, but the Pentagon has learned that it cannot order them to eat. So it tries to tempt them with a wide-ranging menu including energy-boosting HooAH! bars and mango peach applesauce.
At a tasting Wednesday at the Pentagon where staff members and new recruits celebrated the Army's 231st birthday, the chicken pesto pasta, which hits the field in 2008, was a definite favorite. Soldiers described it as "real good" with a surprising amount of spice. The chicken and dumplings also scored big points and will debut in 2007.
Meals-ready-to-eat, or M.R.E.'s, are the Army's standard combat ration, providing about 1,200 calories a meal to soldiers in the field without access to food service facilities. The meals are sealed in airtight packages with a minimum shelf-life of three and a half years when stored at 80 degrees.
"I've eaten them for seven or eight months straight, and I liked the old ones," said one of Wednesday's tasters, Sgt. Michael MacMillan, 27, of New Jersey, who served in Turkey, Kuwait and Iraq. "The Jamaican-style pork chop — that was my favorite."
The pork chops survived the 2006 cut, but the beefsteak with mushroom gravy and chicken tetrazzini are out.
The menu of 24 different meals, including 4 vegetarian options, is changed continuously.
The Army supplements the M.R.E.'s with energy-boosting items to enhance physical performance like the HooAH! bar (with no trans fat and 270 calories), the energy drink HooAH! Soldier Fuel and Wrigley's Stay Alert gum with the equivalent of the caffeine in one cup of coffee in each stick.
The back of each bar's wrapper explains: "The battle cry 'HooAH!' is a cornerstone of military culture. Soldiers shout it as they jump out of helicopters, storm beaches and freefall behind enemy lines. It means anything and everything except no."
The bars and drinks are sold at drugstores, with part of the money helping finance government research on soldier quality-of-life.
The Hooah! bar has recieved [sic] a lot of press in the last few years, and according to its official Website at hooahbar.com, is sold at a wide range of retail outlets including CVS, Duane Reade and 7-Eleven.
"First, the Name HooAH! (pronounced who-ah) is military-speak for Heard, Understood, Acknowledged, an exclamation that, according to the label, 'communicates energy, affirmation, can-do spirit, teamwork, and fearlessness,'" wrote Matt McMillen for the Washington Post last July.
According to the Army, First Strike Rations or FSR "is a compact, eat-on-the-move ration concept designed to be consumed during the first 72 hours of conflict."
"The FSR substantially reduces weight and cube and enhances Warfighter consumption, nutritional intake, and mobility," the Army Website says.