Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Iron Maiden - Eddie - Grim Reaper

Halloween - Haunted House

Halloween - Black Cat

Lord of the Rings - The Witch King of Angmar

Spooked by ghosts? Scared of vampires? No need to fear, say scientists who have applied the laws of physics and math to disprove such frightening phenomena, although they concede there could be a kernel of scientific truth to stories about zombies.

People who report ghostly encounters often claim they feel a sudden chill when in the presence of spirits. Authors Costas Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi argue there's likely a rational explanation. Their recent investigation of the famous "Haunted Gallery" at Hampton Court Palace near London found the gallery contained pockets of cold air due to drafts near concealed doors.

"These pockets of cold air can exist in any room no matter how hot it is," Efthimiou, a University of Central Florida physics professor, told Discovery News. "These pockets may not be actually really cold; all they have to be is colder than the rest of the room since we feel differences in temperature, not absolute temperatures."

The myth that ghosts can walk through walls is also impossible, according to the researchers’ paper, which was recently published on the physics website arXiv. Walking requires placing a force on the floor, which would exert an equal and opposite force in return. Passing through walls, however, would mean that ghosts could not apply any force, so the myth is false.

Vampires also bite the scientific dust.

According to legend, vampires need to feed on human blood. Fang-struck victims then turn into vampires, thus supposedly continuing the cycle. Using geometric progression, Efthimiou and Gandhi calculate that it would only take a few years for vampires, feeding once a month, to wipe out humanity.

The vampire population would forever be on the rise, while the human population would continue to decrease at an ever-increasing rate.

Check out the article at Discovery News.

This is one if my favorite holidays of the year! Too bad I didn't have time to carve pumpkins this year.

The kids will have a blast getting all dressed up - then they'll go out to trick-or-treat. Later on, we'll be off to visit family members around town to check out their decorations, jack-o-lanters and costumes... and of course to show off our costumes and get more loot!

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Matter of Life and Death

New Iron Maiden Album
Kills the Charts Worldwide!

Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death

Iron Maiden - Eddie - Prophet

Iron Maiden - Eddie - Mummy

Iron Maiden - Eddie - Stranger

Iron Maiden - Eddie - Compilation

Metal legends IRON MAIDEN'S new album ‘A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH’ has not only been released to enormous critical acclaim across the globe but has also resulted in some of their highest chart placings ever. In addition to their Number One chart debut on the Billboard Pan-European Chart the album has now debuted at no.9 on the Billboard USA Chart on their US-label Sanctuary Records and at no.2 in Canada.

This is the band's first ever US Top 10 entry in their long and illustrious history and a remarkable achievement, this being their 14th studio album. The album is also No.1 in the US Independent Album Chart. It has even crashed in at No.4 in the official album chart in India which is far and away the highest placing any heavy rock act has ever achieved in that country.

Band founder Steve Harris comments; 'We really enjoyed the process of making this record and were delighted with the reaction. It’s very gratifying that our fans all over the world seem to agree by supporting us so strongly. We are now very much looking forward to the forthcoming tour and intend to play live as much of the album as we feel works in the set. This tour will be very different to the last one in terms of the songs we play and we will very much enjoy the challenge of playing this new material live.'

Manager Rod Smallwood adds; 'This is great news for the band, especially – finally - a Top 10 US Billboard entry. During the 80s we had six straight million-plus selling Platinum records and all of these would have been at least Top 10 under Soundscan with three or four probably debuting at No 1. Having said that though we are very pleased to finally make it and this, along with great sales all over the world and number one in Europe, really is a testament to Maiden's and Metal's ever increasing popularity. We very much look forward to starting our World Tour in the States and Canada in early October and if ticket sales are anything to go by it will be quite an event for our fans over there.'

Maiden's Top 10 US debut comes hot on the heels of the band's No.1 album in Europe on Billboard’s pan - European chart with nine No 1 and eighteen Top 5 chart entries in Europe alone. First week sales in the UK were also at their highest since 1990. In just the first week the new album has shipped over a million copies Worldwide and impacted on the charts pretty well everywhere in the World.

Next month the band start A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH WORLD TOUR which takes them initially into major arenas through North America, Japan and most of Europe with the majority of the dates already sold out. They will play to over half a million fans over 44 shows in 11 weeks in 18 countries.

Check out the article at The Iron Maiden website.

This new album rocks! I can only hope that they come somewhere near me on their new tour. I've been listening to these guys since 1988, and if you haven't heard their music before, I strongly urge you to check them out!

Be sure to check out The Iron Maiden website and Wikipedia's Iron Maiden page.

Also check out artist Derek Riggs website - just click 'published illustration,' then click 'Iron Maiden.'

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bridge Day Festival

New River Gorge Bridge - West Virginia

Bridge Day Festival - Fayetteville, West Virginia

New River Gorge Bridge - BASE Jumper

El Capitan - Yosemite

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. - Thousands of people watched as a pioneer BASE jumper fell to his death during the Bridge Day festival Saturday when his chute opened too late, Fayette County Sheriff Bill Laird said.

Brian Lee Schubert, 66, died of injuries suffered when he hit the New River, 876 feet below the New River Gorge Bridge, Laird said. After his body was recovered and taken to a local funeral home, jumping at the festival resumed.

Schubert, from Alta Loma, Calif., had been well known in the sport since 1966, when he and a friend became the first people to jump from El Capitan, a nearly 3,000-foot-tall rock formation, in California's Yosemite National Park.

"Brian Schubert was a pioneer of base jumping and an icon in the sport," Laird said.

Schubert was taking part in West Virginia's annual Bridge Day festival, which organizers estimated drew nearly 150,000 spectators this year. He was a retired Pomona, California police lieutenant.

Lew Whitener, a newspaper photographer covering the event for the Register-Herald of Beckley, said it appeared the chute didn't start to open until Schubert was about 25 feet above the water.

The crowd below the bridge gave a "collective gasp" when people realized the chute was not opening, he said.

A large rock obscured the crowd's view of the man's body hitting the water, Whitener said.

The fatality is the first since 1987 at the popular event. For one day a year, the National Park Service allows people to parachute off the world's second largest single-span bridge to the national river below. To qualify to jump off the bridge, applicants must have skydived at least 50 times.

The sport of BASE jumping involves parachuting off buildings, antennae, spans and earth. Since 1981, there have been at least 100 BASE-jump fatalities around the world, according to the World BASE Fatality List, a Web site maintained by a BASE jumper.

Check out the article at Fox News.

Extreme Sports are precisely that... but we all make our choices. I'm sure Mr. Schubert didn't intend for this to happen, but at least he went out doing what he loved! No doubt about it, it takes some real balls to participate in this sport!

For more info on BASE jumping, check out the article at Wikipedia.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Population Hits 300 Million!

The 300 Millionth American

Lazy American Attitude Toward Immigration

We were once the immigrants - let's hope the Mexicans don't do as well as us!

When the United States was last poised to pass such a momentous population milestone, Chicago's famous Picasso sculpture had only recently been dedicated, gas cost 33 cents a gallon and the nation was deeply embroiled in a war in Vietnam.

It had taken more than half a century for the U.S. to grow from 100 million to 200 million people, finally crossing the threshold in November 1967. Now, nearly 40 years later, the nation is on the brink of reaching 300 million.

"It's as good a number as any to stop and take stock of where we are and where we might be headed," said Linda Jacobsen, director of domestic programs for the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based think tank that studies national and global demographics.

It is also an achievement that is certain to trigger marketing initiatives on the part of baby food manufacturers, hospital publicists, public officials and others, just as it did in 1967. Gerber Products Co. has already incorporated a potential 300 millionth baby on its Web site.

Whether the 300 millionth person is a newborn--or someone entering the nation legally through an airport or illegally through the Arizona desert--will never be known because no one counts each new arrival.

At 300 million, the United States is the world's third most populous nation, though it remains far behind the growing economic superpowers of China (1.31 billion) and India (1.09 billion).

Fueled by immigration, longer life expectancies and birthrates that remain relatively high for an industrialized nation, America's next 100 million is expected to be added even quicker, perhaps by 2040.

Check out the article at Red Orbit.

Population growth is a scary thing... especially when it's the Hispanics that are growing so fast. They are infiltrating our society and I'm tired of pressing 1 for English!

Be sure to check out Strange Women Lying in Ponds' blog entry: Illegal Immigrant Thank You List.

For the racial breakdown in your neck of the woods, reference this U.S. Population Map.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's All in the Lighting

Backlit Saturn Halo - 2006 Cassini Photo

Backlit Saturn - 2006 Cassini Photo

Saturn's Rings

Taking advantage of a rare photo moment, scientists using the Cassini spacecraft have found faint new rings circling Saturn and hints of hidden moons.

The images were taken as Saturn was virtually dead-set centered in front of the sun, as viewed by the orbiting Cassini probe. Cassini's cameras detected two new wispy trails of particles lit up like streams of dust in front of a brightly lit window, and confirmed two other previously discovered rings.

Scientists believe the rings are dust particles caused by asteroids or comets striking the surfaces of small inner moons circling Saturn. The moons' gravity is too weak to hold on to any kind of surface dust, so impacts blast material into Saturn's orbit, where the particles assemble into loosely packed rings in the moons' orbital paths.

Check out the article at Discovery News.

Some really awesome photography is coming back from space! Just imagine what kind of technology will be on-board future satellites!

Check out my previous space posts: Space 12, Space 11, Space 10, Space 9, Space 8, Space 7, Space 6, Space 5, Space 4, Space 3, Space 2 and Space 1

Monday, October 16, 2006

Asteroid Defense?


Deep Impact

Experts say there are an estimated 1,100 known objects that are 1 kilometer (about a half-mile) or wider across — large enough to not only take out a sizable European country but threaten the entire world.

"The goal is to discover these killer asteroids before they discover us," said Nick Kaiser of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, whose Pan-STARRS program will train four powerful digital cameras on the heavens to watch for would-be intruders.

NASA's Spaceguard Survey, which already has identified 800 of the larger objects and has 103 on an impact risk watchlist, wants to find 90 percent by the end of 2008.

The U.S. Congress has asked the space agency for a plan to comb the cosmos for faint objects as small as 140 meters (153 yards) across and log their position, speed and course by 2020.

Astronomers will have their work cut out for them: Experts say there are about 100,000 such objects hidden among the haze of stars, and as many as 1 million half that size.

One known as the Tunguska object slammed into remote central Siberia in 1908, unleashing energy equivalent to a 15-megaton nuclear bomb and wiped out 60 million trees over an 830-square-mile area. Had it hit a populated area, the loss of life would have been staggering.

Giovanni Valsecchi of Italy's National Institute of Astrophysics said the ultimate aim is a permanent warning system like those that now monitor the Pacific for tsunamis and keep tabs on volcanoes and earthquake zones.

The idea: Give the world enough lead time to come up with a workable response to a confirmed threat, such as sending up a rocket to deflect an Earth-bound object or a spacecraft to nudge it into a harmless orbit.

"Right now, unfortunately, there are no 'asteroid busters' or hotlines. Who ya gonna call?" said Andrea Milani Comparetti, a professor of mathematics at the University of Pisa.

The IAU offered some reassurance Thursday about 99942 Apophis, a smallish asteroid that will come within just 18,000 miles of Earth when it whizzes by in 2029. That's closer than many commercial satellites, and 220,000 miles nearer than the moon.

Last year, scientists were concerned Apophis could come even closer in another fly-by in 2036, with a 1-in-5,500 chance of striking Earth with enough energy to wipe out New York City and its suburbs.

Check out the article at Fox News.

You have to wonder how many asteroids are out there heading this way. It might be a good idea to form some kind of contingency plan to avoid potential impacts.

Check out my previous space posts: Space 11, Space 10, Space 9, Space 8, Space 7, Space 6, Space 5, Space 4, Space 3, Space 2 and Space 1

Monday, October 09, 2006

Top Ten Fighter Aircraft

JAS-39 Gripen
#10: JAS-39 Gripen

FA-18E/F Super Hornet
#9: FA-18E/F Super Hornet

F-16C Fighting Falcon
#8: F-16C Fighting Falcon

F-14D Tomcat
#7: F-14D Tomcat

Su-27 Flanker
#6: Su-27 Flanker

F-15C Eagle
#5: F-15C Eagle

Dassault Rafale
#4: Dassault Rafale

Eurofighter Typhoon
#3: Eurofighter Typhoon

F-35 Lightning II
#2: F-35 Lightning II

F/A-22 Raptor
#1: F/A-22 Raptor

The current cutting edge of fighter design combines previous emphasis on versatility with new developments such as thrust vectoring, composite materials, supercruise, and stealth technology. To date, none of these aircraft have been used in combat. Current developments include reducing the radar visibility of fighters—techniques known as stealth—as well as increased range at supersonic speeds (supercruise) and better maneuverability.

Of these, only the American F-22 Raptor, put into production in 2004 are operational, and it is often regarded as the first of a new generation of fighters, termed the fifth generation. (Although the European Eurofighter Typhoon is often considered a direct rival to the F-22 Raptor with a similar performance). The in-development F-35 Lightning II (formerly Joint Strike Fighter) has also been designed for stealth, and the F-22 has influenced the continued development of the 4th generation designs, and the shape of design work for other countries' long-term fighter development projects (for instance, the rumoured Chinese Shenyang J-XX project, Indian Medium Combat Aircraft, and the Russian PAK FA).

Check out the article at Wikipedia.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Geaux Tigers!!!

LSU Tiger Stadium - September 30, 2006

Enter LSU Tigers

LSU Tiger Stadium

Eye of the Tiger

LSU Tiger Stadium - fisheye lens

LSU Tiger Stadium - September 30, 2006

BATON ROUGE – ESPN personality and former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard was on the LSU campus Wednesday for a feature the network is airing on the Tiger defensive line.

The Tiger defensive line will be featured on ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday morning as a preview for ninth-ranked LSU’s game against fifth-ranked Florida. College GameDay airs each Saturday starting at 9 a.m. This week, the College GameDay set will be on location in Gainesville, Fla., for the LSU-Florida contest.

Howard spent an hour with Tiger starters Chase Pittman, Glenn Dorsey, Marlon Favorite and Tyson Jackson on Wednesday morning for the feature. Howard talked the players about what has made the so effective this year, while also getting the defenders to demonstrate some of their techniques and stunts.

As a unit, the Tiger defensive line has combined for 14 of LSU’s 19 sacks, with Jackson leading the way with 5.5 sacks through five games. LSU goes into the Florida game leading the nation in total defense, allowing just 193.4 yards per game. The Tigers have also allowed only 37 points this year for an average of 7.4 points per game, a figure that ranks second nationally.

Check out the article at LSU Sports.

As the Tigers wind down the practice week and head into the weekend, Miles said he has liked his team’s preparation. He also likes the way his team has handled the mental aspect of approaching a road game against a top five-ranked opponent.

“We’ve been around that before,” Miles said of the top 10 matchup with Florida. “It’s not unusual and it’s kind of what we would expect. We expect these matchups, maybe as many as four or five times a year. I don’t think that creates enormity. We are facing a quality opponent. Everybody understands what it’s for and how important it is. I don’t think it needs to be heightened.”

Check out the article at LSU Sports.

Geaux Tigers!

Check out my LSU Football 2006 post!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Space Elevator

Space Elevator

Space Elevator Diagram

Space Elevator Concept

Space Elevator Concept

Admittedly, at least for now, the idea of a beanstalk-like space elevator connecting Earth and space is a stretch.

But next month’s X Prize Cup will host the Space Elevator Games, an unprecedented challenge for today’s engineers looking at ways to alter the future of access to space.

Teams from around the country will gather October 20-21 in Las Cruces, New Mexico to compete for $400,000 in prize money as part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges—the space agency’s program of prize contests to stimulate innovation and competition in solar system exploration.

No matter how you look at it—from the top down or bottom up—building a full-scale space elevator is an uphill battle. But at least physics is in your favor.

The concept is a system utilizing an ultra-strong ribbon that extends from the surface of the Earth to a point beyond geosynchronous orbit. The ribbon is held in place by a counterweight in orbit. As the Earth rotates, the ribbon is held taut. Vehicles would climb the ribbon powered by a beam of energy projected from the surface of the Earth. [See video animation here.]

Visionaries like science fact/fiction writer, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, are space elevator advocates.

Still, wordsmithing the technology is a far cry from hammering it out for real, and there are those who believe the innovations and breakthroughs needed, like nanotubes, might not work.

Check out the article at Space.com.

What an awesome concept! This would be a major investment, but would save so much fuel and energy in the long run that it would be a bargain for whoever builds it. We just need to make sure we keep such a major project out of any one entity's possession... it needs to be a world collective project.

On the other hand, just read Red Mars to see what kind of catastrophe the sabotage of a Space Elevator would be.

For more information on the Space Elevator concept, visit Wikipedia or NASA Science.

Check out my previous space posts: Space 10, Space 9, Space 8, Space 7, Space 6, Space 5, Space 4, Space 3, Space 2 and Space 1