Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bob Dylan receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

Bob Dylan, John Glenn, et al, received the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States today from President Obama.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SpaceX Dragon docks with the International Space Station

This is one action-packed video!!!!!!


A very important milestone though.

Why are fountain pen sales rising?

"You might expect that email and the ballpoint pen had killed the fountain pen. But sales are rising, so is the fountain pen a curious example of an old-fashioned object surviving the winds of change?
For many people, fountain pens bring back memories of school days full of inky fingers, smudged exercise books and piles of pink blotting paper.

But for others, a fat Montblanc or a silver-plated Parker is a treasured item. Prominently displayed, they are associated with long, sinuous lines of cursive script.

Sales figures are on the up. Parker, which has manufactured fountain pens since 1888, claims a worldwide "resurgence" in the past five years, and rival Lamy says turnover increased by more than 5% in 2011.

Online retailer Amazon says sales so far this year have doubled compared with the same period in 2011. They are four times higher than 2010."

This is a very interesting article, with hundreds of reader comments, as well as English author Neil Gaiman explains why he writes his novels with fountain pens.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Scientist at Work: Don’t Feed Wild Dolphins (Even if They Beg)

Human feeding of wild dolphins brings them into contact with anglers and their gear, and leads to increases in serious dolphin injuries and deaths.

"The Sarasota Bay dolphins saved the best for last, and our final focal follow of the week turned out to be our smoothest. We attached the DTAG tracking devices to the dolphins around 2 p.m. and followed them from a safe distance to collect behavioral data while the DTAGs recorded their whistles. These dolphins were particularly cooperative, swimming synchronously and at a moderate pace, making them easy to track. Their tags came off around 4:30 p.m., which was exactly when we had programmed the electronics to release them. It felt great that we didn’t lose any dolphins or DTAGs today. "


Scientist at Work: Whistle Recognition in Bottlenose Dolphins

"Thursday, May 10
I took a break from focal follows on the Nai’a boat today to hop over to Flip, the veterinary examination boat on which veterinarians perform dolphin health assessments. I had a great time asking the vets on board about their duties as we searched for animals in the morning.

The vets spend their field days obtaining a variety of samples and measurements of the dolphins. Because they’ve been doing health assessments since 1987, they now have a comprehensive suite of Sarasota Bay dolphin health information that serves as benchmark data for comparisons with other dolphin populations around the world. This is particularly handy in the wake of environmental disasters; scientists used data from the Sarasota dolphins to understand how other coastal dolphin communities might have been affected by oil and contaminants from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill."


Scientist at Work: Searching for a Pair of Dolphins in the Gulf

"Patience is key when it comes to tracking dolphins in the wild. If we lose sight of them or if our tracking devices — the DTAGs — fall off prematurely, like they did on Monday, it takes hours and hours into the evening until we find them again. It’s important that we find the DTAGs. They took 13 years to develop and cost thousands of dollars each. But losing sight of the dolphins is also difficult to deal with and that’s what happened to us today.

Around 2 p.m., our focal animals — two male dolphins named F276 and F142 — decided to venture out of Sarasota Bay into the Gulf of Mexico portion of their range. Sarasota Bay is an estuary, so its waters are partly enclosed and therefore relatively calm even at high tide, which makes tracking easier for us than if we were in the open ocean. But we felt an immediate difference when the dolphins left the bay and entered the Gulf of Mexico portion of their range. Though the Nai’a, our tracking boat, is sturdy, it was not designed for rough waters. It jerked violently up and down with the choppy waters of the gulf, and we soon lost sight of both F276 and F142."


Scientist at Work: Playing Tag With Dolphins

Tara Thean, a biology major at Princeton University, writes from Sarasota Bay in Florida, where she is studying signature whistle development in wild bottlenose dolphins.

Monday, May 7
I saw my first dolphins at 8 a.m. on an overcast Monday morning in Sarasota Bay, Fla., just seven minutes after leaving the boat ramp near Mote Marine Laboratory. The dolphins, muscular creatures about two and a half meters long, were a mother-calf pair named Boxer and Box 1. They powered smoothly through the water with their sleek blue-gray bodies, staying close together as we watched from 50 meters away.
Few animals have had their life stories so closely documented as the dolphins in Sarasota Bay. There are people out here who could tell you about a particular dolphin’s date of birth, list the sex of each of its calves and describe its behavioral ups and downs simply by looking at the nicks and notches on its fin. From time to time, a team of veterinarians and scientists from around the world work with the Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program to conduct health assessments and photo-identification surveys of the Sarasota dolphin community, gathering biological, behavioral, ecological and health data for use by field biologists, conservationists and veterinarians.

I am fortunate to be part of one such team this spring. I will write a senior thesis that focuses on bottlenose dolphins under the supervision of Laela Sayigh, a research specialist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Laela has kindly allowed me to take part in this trip to help with data collection and to get some hands-on experience with the animals I will be thinking and writing about for the rest of my undergraduate career.


Where Shoes Listen and Coins Kill

In 1953, after the early successes of Soviet espionage demonstrated just how difficult and dangerous the cold war would become, the Central Intelligence Agency began a top-secret program called MKUltra. It included exotic projects that decades later provided much critical fodder for commentators and comedians: exploding cigars, poison-laced toothpaste, hallucinogenic serums. And as we learn in a video interview with professional spies at the exhibition “Spy: The Secret World of Espionage,” opening on Friday at Discovery Times Square, it even included the hiring of a magician, John Mulholland, as a C.I.A. consultant


Table Tennis Beside a Bank, and Other Contests Intended to ‘Reclaim’ Midtown

An unorthodox table-tennis tournament played against the Bank of America building in Manhattan on Friday was part of a project by the artist Zefrey Throwell.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Real-world beaming: The risk of avatar and robot crime

"First it was the telephone, then web cameras and Skype, now remote "presence" is about to take another big step forward - raising some urgent legal and ethical questions."

Read an interesting article, and see a video, on the latest in telepresence here