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Astronomers Find Organic Molecules Around Gas Planet

Peering far beyond our solar system, NASA researchers have detected the basic chemistry for life in a second hot gas planet, advancing astronomers toward the goal of being able to characterize planets where life could exist. The planet is not habitable but it has the same chemistry that, if found around a rocky planet in the future, could indicate the presence of life.

'It's the second planet outside our solar system in which water, methane and carbon dioxide have been found, which are potentially important for biological processes in habitable planets,' said researcher Mark Swain of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 'Detecting organic compounds in two exoplanets now raises the possibility that it will become commonplace to find planets with molecules that may be tied to life.'

Swain and his co-investigators used data from two of NASA's orbiting Great Observatories, the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, to study HD 209458b, a hot, gaseous giant planet bigger than Jupiter that orbits a sun-like star about 150 light years away in the constellation Pegasus. The new finding follows their breakthrough discovery in December 2008 of carbon dioxide around another hot, Jupiter-size planet, HD 189733b. Earlier Hubble and Spitzer observations of that planet had also revealed water vapor and methane.

The detections were made through spectroscopy, which splits light into its components to reveal the distinctive spectral signatures of different chemicals. Data from Hubble's near-infrared camera and multi-object spectrometer revealed the presence of the molecules, and data from Spitzer's photometer and infrared spectrometer measured their amounts.

'This demonstrates that we can detect the molecules that matter for life processes,' said Swain. Astronomers can now begin comparing the two planetary atmospheres for differences and similarities. For example, the relative amounts of water and carbon dioxide in the two planets is similar, but HD 209458b shows a greater abundance of methane than HD 189733b. 'The high methane abundance is telling us something,' said Swain. 'It could mean there was something special about the formation of this planet.'

Other large, hot Jupiter-type planets can be characterized and compared using existing instruments, Swain said. This work will lay the groundwork for the type of analysis astronomers eventually will need to perform in shortlisting any promising rocky Earth-like planets where the signatures of organic chemicals might indicate the presence of life.

Rocky worlds are expected to be found by NASA's Kepler mission, which launched earlier this year, but astronomers believe we are a decade or so away from being able to detect any chemical signs of life on such a body.

If and when such Earth-like planets are found in the future, 'the detection of organic compounds will not necessarily mean there's life on a planet, because there are other ways to generate such molecules,' Swain said. 'If we detect organic chemicals on a rocky, Earth-like planet, we will want to understand enough about the planet to rule out non-life processes that could have led to those chemicals being there.'

'These objects are too far away to send probes to, so the only way we're ever going to learn anything about them is to point telescopes at them. Spectroscopy provides a powerful tool to determine their chemistry and dynamics.'

You can follow the history of planet hunting from science fiction to science fact with NASA's PlanetQuest Historic Timeline at .

This interactive web feature, developed by JPL, conveys the story of exoplanet exploration through a rich tapestry of words and images spanning thousands of years, beginning with the musings of ancient philosophers and continuing through the current era of space-based observations by NASA's Spitzer and Kepler missions. The timeline highlights milestones in culture, technology and science, and includes a planet counter that tracks the pace of exoplanet discoveries over time.

More information about exoplanets and NASA's planet-finding program is at .

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency and is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md., conducts Hubble science operations. The institute is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for research in Astronomy, Inc., Washington, D.C.

JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA

Car Skills

Caution: Not for the Fainthearted

For those who have claimed to have good observational skills, here is your chance to put it to the test.

Basically there is a video link below this, click on th link and if that doesn't work copy past it this will take you to the video. There, you will observe a car passing through the road(place close attention to the car, you will notice some changes as it goes). Some will be able to see the change, while others won't be able to. Also please comment on our blog to tell us what you think about the video.
Have fun!


If there are any issued with this link, put comments and I will fix as soon as i can.

Most distant object ever seen.

PARIS (AFP) – It took 13 billion years to reach Earth, but astronomers have seen the light of an exploding mega-star that is the most distant object ever detected, two studies published Thursday reported.
The stunning gamma-ray burst (GRB) was observed by two teams of researchers in April, and opens a window onto a poorly known period when the Universe was in its infancy.
GRBs are the most violent explosions known to exist, and can be 10 million times more luminous than the brightest of galaxies.
They accompany the catastrophic death of a massive star, and are probably triggered by the collapse of the star's centre into a black hole.
Dubbed GRB 090423, the new discovery was first spotted by the NASA satellite Swift.

Astronomers alerted to the find trained several of Earth's largest telescopes skyward just in time to see the gamma-ray burst's fading afterglow.
The discovery is especially exciting for scientists because the explosion occurred during the so-called "cosmic dark ages", which started a mere 400,000 years after the Big Bang set the Universe in motion some 13.7 billion years ago.
During this period, free electrons and protons combined to form neutral atoms with the same number of positive and negative charges, resulting in an opaque -- or "dark" -- universe.
Not until 800 to 900 million years after the Big Bang were atoms and molecules "re-ionised", or electrically charged, resulting in the relatively transluscent inter-galactic medium we see today.
GRB 090423 flashed and crashed toward the end of these dark ages, making it the oldest object ever seen.
"This observation allows us to begin exploring the last blank space on our map of the Universe," said Nial Tanvir, a professor at the University of Leicester and lead author of one of the studies.
"It is tremendously exciting to be looking back in time to an era when the first stars were just switching on," said Andrew Levan, a professor at the University of Warwick in Britain and co-author of the same study.
The previous record holder for oldest object is at least 150 million years younger than the newly discovered gamma-ray burst.
Both studies were published in the British science journal Nature.

Call me feature added.

Yes, you can now call me using google voice for free.
Enter your number and your name below, and google will automatically connect you. You can hide your number too, i dont need it and if you dont reach me, leave me a voice mail if you want me to get back to you. :)

What's wrong with our economy?

Click on the picture to zoom in.

Courtesy of

Facebook Virus

A new variant of the Bredolab Trojan horse is attached to a fake "Facebook Password Reset Confirmation" e-mail, security firm MX Labs is reporting.
Some users are receiving the e-mail from "The Facebook Team," according to the security firm. The sender's e-mail address displays "" In reality, the address and sender were spoofed.

MX Labs found that the e-mail was accompanied by an attachment named, " and includes the file Facebook_Password_4cf91.exe" that, the e-mail claims, contains the user's new Facebook password. The security firm said that the element between the underscore and .zip are randomly chosen letters and numbers for each recipient.
When a user downloads the file, it could wreak havoc on their computer. MX Labs said in a blog post that the Trojan horse Bredolab "executes files from the Internet, such as rogue anti-spyware. To bypass firewalls, it injects its own code into legitimate processes svchost.exe and explorer.exe. Bredolab contains anti-sandbox code (the trojan might quit itself when an external program investigates its actions)." In other words, it's nasty.
Once it makes its way to the user's PC, Bredolab creates "%AppData%\wiaservg.log" and "%Programs%\Startup\isqsys32.exe" in the user's system files. MX Labs said that it also creates two new processes, called "isqsys32.exe" and "svchost.exe."
Another security watchdog, M86 Security, wrote that there's more to the outbreak than Bredolab. After it sneaks its way onto the user's computer, M86 said, Bredolab downloads a bot called Pushdo. The company found that Pushdo immediately starts "spamming out more of these Facebook password reset e-mails."
For its part, Facebook was quick to point out that the e-mail containing the virus wasn't coming from the social network.
"This virus is being distributed through email, not on Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson wrote. "The email is disguised as a Facebook password reset e-mail with an attachment that purportedly contains the new password, but is actually the virus. We're educating users on how to detect this through the Facebook Security Page."
Facebook said that users should be "suspicious of unexpected emails claiming to be from Facebook." The company also said that it will never send users a new password as an attachment.
Those users that have downloaded the file should use anti-malware software to remove it. Click here for a list of security software available from CNET's Download database.

China looking for U.S. missing bomber

China has begun looking for the remains of a U.S. Air Force bomber and its crew that crashed over the southern part of the country some six decades ago during the Korean War, state media reported.

The B-29 "Superfortress" caught fire and came down in Raoping county, Guangdong province, on November 5, 1950, Xinhua news agency said in a report late on Monday. Villagers found 15 bodies, four of which were buried on the site of the crash.
The reported crash site is hundreds of miles from the combat zone in Korea, but en route to the U.S. bases in Japan from which the bombers operated during the war.
Chinese military archivists are now looking through old documents and "could very likely discover the remains of personnel on the U.S. B-29 bomber," Xinhua said.
"Primary research of the archives has found more than 100 documents relating to missing U.S. servicemen," Xinhua added.
The U.S. Department of Defence says more than 8,100 U.S. personnel are still officially listed as missing from the Korean War, in which U.S.-led forces faced off against the North Koreans and their Chinese allies.
China agreed with the United States last year that it would search though its archives to look for clues of the whereabouts of missing U.S. personnel, many of whom went missing during the 1950-53 Korean war.
Military relations between China and the United States have been strained of late, due to several naval confrontations.
Beijing has repeatedly called on the United States to reduce and eventually stop air and sea surveillance close to its shores.
But on Monday, a top Chinese general said in Washington that he backed better military-to-military relations with the United States.

Why you can’t stop playing Bejeweled

We've all been there. The clock tells us it's time to call it a night, but we don't want to do so until we've completed just one more level. 90 minutes later, we're still using that same excuse.
There's something about well-designed games – especially casual titles – that captivates players. Every title has its own secret sauce, but solving the mystery of their deep engagement isn't as hard as you might think. In fact, it often comes down to six factors.

Sounds – Those little pings and muted explosions might not stand out in your mind when you're playing, but they have a lot to do with why you can’t stop. The next time you play "Bejeweled" or "Peggle," notice how the notes get progressively higher on combinations. That's one of PopCap's secret weapons.
"It turns out that people really respond to the rising pitch," says Jason Kapalka, cofounder and creative director of PopCap Games. "That's a trick that never gets old and one that we use again and again."

On-screen changes – Another go-to trick at PopCap is a constantly evolving screen. Every action you take changes the way the game looks in some form or fashion. These changes, says Dr. Carl Arinoldo, a New York psychologist, actually increase your engagement.
"Every time you do something, you’ve essentially got a new visual stimulus in front of you," he says. "This helps to increase concentration and keeps your brain going. Every time there's something new on the screen, you're putting together new groups of brain cells."
Generous scores – Ever notice how high your score is in most casual games? In the end, it doesn't mean much, but you still feel a real sense of accomplishment. That's deliberate. Aiming for a score of 1 million is a lot more engaging than shooting for 1,000.
"It's kind of the pinball machine rule," says Kapalka. "There's no reason a pinball machine has to score in the hundreds of thousands or millions, but if your average game of pinball scored 53 points, no one would enjoy it."

Low pressure – Sometimes a ticking clock adds to the fun of a game, but it's often a distraction – and an unnecessary source of stress. That's why PopCap games tend to be slow-paced or have no time limit at all. There were plenty of word-based games before "Bookworm," for instance, but most had timer elements to them. That created a high-pressure environment.
Instead of making the game time-based, PopCap added new ways to lose, such as the burning tiles, but let the player move at his or her own pace.
Cognitive benefits – Between keeping your brain stimulated and avoiding high pressure, playing these games actually has some beneficial qualities. Stress levels go down and, according to Arinoldo, attention spans increase.
"People report their concentration and focusing improves," he says. "On top of that, they also assist with problem solving and decision making. ... I actually recommend them to my patients as far as stress management is concerned."
Big rewards – Many PopCap titles are offshoots of existing games. "Bookworm," for instance, owes a big debt to Scabble. And "Peggle" wouldn't exist if it weren't for Pachinko. At their core, the games typically aren't particularly fun to watch being played. So when a user hits a new level, there needs to be a significant visual reward.
"With Peggle, a lot of work went into the 'extreme fever' area at the completion of a level, where you get the rainbows, fireworks and 'Ode to Joy' is played," says Kapalka. "That's a big payoff for the player."

-Courtesy of Yahoo News

Man Arrested for Being Naked in His OWN HOME

SPRINGFILED, Va. - A debate continues in Northern Virginia that is bringing the issue of civil liberties to the national stage. A 29-year-old Springfield man says he was making coffee in the nude was arrested after a neighbor saw him, and on Wednesday police were back out in his neighborhood looking for others who might have seen him. Eric Williamson, 29, is a commercial diver who grew up in Hawaii and rents home with several co-workers. Williamson told FOX 5's Will Thomas his roommates were not home and he walked into the kitchen to make coffee about 8:30 a.m. Monday. "Yes, I wasn't wearing any clothes but I was alone, in my own home and just got out of bed. It was dark and I had no idea anyone was outside looking in at me," Williamson said. But at about 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning, a neighbor walking her son to school says he deliberately exposed himself-- not once, but twice. First, she says it happened as he was standing in the glass doorway in the kitchen, and then again at a front window.
"We've heard there may have been other people who had a similar incident," said Mary Ann Jennings, a Fairfax County Police spokesperson.
The complaint came from an unidentified woman who was walking with a 7-year-old boy. A Fairfax County Police spokesperson said officers arrested Williamson for indecent exposure because they believe he wanted to be seen naked by the public. On Wednesday, investigators told FOX 5 they have reason to believe there may have been another incident in which someone saw Williamson naked in front of his window. They're asking anyone who may have seen Williamson in the nude through his windows to come forward, even if it was at a different time.
Police are especially concerned because the house is located across the street from a bus stop for school children. So on Wednesday, officers canvassed the neighborhood with fliers, asking anyone who may have been subject to an exposure to come forward. The department spokesperson says in a rare move, they're releasing more information about the case.
"Because this was being spun into a national story, and the idea you can't be naked in your own house-- we wanted to come forward and say in this case our officers believed there was probable cause the law had been violated," said Jennings. Eric has since moved out of the rental house he shared with several diving buddies. And, by phone on Wednesday, the father of a 5-year-old girl maintained his innocence, as he did Monday in an exclusive interview with FOX 5.
"I'm a loving dad-- any of my friends would tell you that," Williamson said. "There is not a chance on this planet I would ever, ever do anything like that to a kid."
Police wouldn't release the incident report or the name of the mother who filed the complaint. FOX 5 has learned she is a respected member of the community, and just happens to be the wife of a Fairfax County Police officer.
FOX 5 also spoke with some of Williamson's roommates, and they said they believed Eric was drunk on Monday morning when they were all leaving for work around 5 a.m. The alleged exposure happened around 8:30 a.m. Williamson, however, says he was drinking on Sunday night, but was not drunk on Monday morning.

courtesy of

Day light saving on Nov. 1

Daylight Savings Time 2009 fall back is November 1. Daylight Savings Time begins at 0200, but Daylight Savings Time 2009 fall back is confusing for many.

The European Union experienced a Daylight Savings Time fall back today - October 25. In the past, the Daylight Savings Time fall back took place in last Sunday in October.
Now, Daylight Savings Time takes place on the first Sunday in November.

Daylight Savings Time has an interesting past. A big reason that countries like Daylight Savings Time is because it helps conserve energy by keeping daylight stretched longer.

The Daylight Savings Time fall back period is actually a return back to Standard Time. In March, people have to "spring forward", losing an hour. When "spring forward" takes place, daylight is stretched longer and the use of artificial lights is unwarranted.

During WWI, Germany was the first country to use Daylight Savings Time. America eventually started using Daylight Savings time in order to save fuel for the war efforts. After the war, Daylight Savings Time was repealed. Throughout the world, inconsistent use of Daylight Savings time created problems, and even caused a train wreck in France.

The Oil Embargo in 1973 raised the popularity of Daylight Savings Time. The period was extended all year long, and saved the US nearly 3 million barrels of oil each month. After the Oil Embargo was over, Daylight Savings Time reverted back to 6 months a year, then increased to 7 months a year in 1986.

In 2007, Daylight Savings Time was extended once more. Now, the Daylight Savings Time is extended 3 or 4 weeks in the spring and 1 week in the fall.

Extending the Daylight Savings Time fall back causes a lot of confusion, especially when other countries still have Daylight Savings Time fall back set for this week.

Missing Daylight Savings Time fall back could cause you to show up early for events. Be sure to set your clocks back 1 hour by 0200 on November 1st. Better yet, set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on October 31, so the clock is accurate when you wake up.

Again, Daylight Savings Time fall back is November 1 - the first Sunday in November. It starts at 0200.

Swine flu-national emergency

President Obamahas declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, allowing hospitals and local governments to speedily set up alternate sites for treatment and triage procedures if needed to handle any surge of patients, the White House said on Saturday.

    The declaration came as thousands of people lined up in cities across the country to receive vaccination, and as federal officials acknowledged that their ambitious vaccination program has gotten off to a slow start. Only 16 million doses of the vaccine were available now, and about 30 million were expected by the end of the month. Some states have requested 10 times the amount they have been allotted.
    Flu activity — virtually all of it the swine flu — is now widespread in 46 states, a level that federal officials say equals the peak of a typical winter flu season. Millions of people in the United States have had swine flu, known as H1N1, either in the first wave in the spring or the current wave.
    Although there has been no exact count, officials said the H1N1 virus has killed more than 1,000 Americans and hospitalized over 20,000. The emergency declaration, which Mr. Obama signed Friday night, has to do only with hospital treatment, not with the vaccine. Government officials emphasized that Mr. Obama’s declaration was largely an administrative move that did not signify any unanticipated worsening of the outbreak of the H1N1 flu nationwide. Nor, they said, did it have anything to do with the reports of vaccine shortages.

    -Courtesy of NYTimes

    Bueno? Dobre? How to learn a foreign language online

    Whether I was squeezing myself into a crowded subway car or admiring the fall leaves around at Tsaritsino Park, I was constantly learning new Russian words during my two-week study trip to Moscow last October.

    The Internet offers a variety of options for people looking to learn foreign languages.

    Free online learning
    With the boom in social media, it makes sense that learning a language online would take on a Facebook-like component. My general impression is that these are great ways to exchange languages with people all over the world, but you might not always get helpful feedback. Watch for more on language learning »
    With Livemocha, you get to learn the language of your choice while helping others who want to speak your native tongue. Once you complete a structured lesson, you submit your own writing and audio recordings to other users for feedback. Reading a sentence aloud and then sending my recording off was pretty intimidating, but I got a response within 10 minutes from a girl in Russia who gave it five stars and a "Good!!" -- although she was surely too kind.
    Don't Miss
    Who's the better translator: Google or Facebook?
    I also got to review English submissions from other users, which felt especially gratifying because I had just been in their uncomfortable situation of sending off my words to strangers.
    There's also Lang-8, which is all about the practice of writing. You essentially keep a journal in the language you are practicing, and others in the online community read and correct it.
    Want more structure? The Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium gives out awards every year for outstanding language-learning Web sites: read the full list. No Russian sites made it there, but for Spanish (my second language) they cite a wonderful (and free) interactive refresher called Spanish Language and Culture with Barbara Kuczun Nelson.
    This site uses popular Spanish songs, photo essays and other activities to teach grammar and vocabulary. It's intended for people who have had some exposure to the language, however.
    iPhone apps
    If you've got an iPhone, you've got a way to get exposure to your language of choice wherever there's adequate reception. In general, I'm kind of in awe of the idea that I can have a pre-recorded voice pronounce words as many times as I want so I can match it (although standing in the subway and repeating the same foreign word over and over might draw some unwanted attention).
    First, I checked out AccelaStudy, an iPhone app that offers practice in 15 languages, including Russian. The free version shows and pronounces 132 words in "study" mode. In "flashcard" mode, you get a word in English and then touch the screen to "turn over" the card and hear and see the Russian translation. I like that you can listen to each word as many times as you want before you think you're pronouncing it right.
    The quiz, though, is only 10 words, which are the same in the audio version and don't seem to vary. However, $7.99 will get you access to more than 2,100 unique words. This seems like a good supplement for language learning but not ideal on its own, especially since there's no speaking or writing practice.
    For some, Byki, also available in multiple languages, may be more useful. For $7.99, you get flash cards with audio and pictures, and I feel that both elements are essential for my own learning of new words. The app comes with 1,000 words, which is less than half that of AccelaStudy, however.
    I am intrigued that you can use this app to see how your vocabulary words are being used in real time on Twitter. For those without an iPhone, you can get free version of Byki for Mac or PC, or a "deluxe" version you can use to import vocabulary lists to the iPhone.
    Paying more for immersion
    The gold standard of computer-based language learning seems to be Rosetta Stone. Here's what I love: It forces you, like a real situation in a foreign country, to stretch the limits of your understanding but gives you feedback so that you learn and progress.
    Instead of memorizing words, you confront pictures and learn to describe what's going on. In the two months since I started the beginning Russian levels, I've been exposed to a variety of everyday vocabulary words through pictures and constant audio reinforcement. It is gratifying at the end of each unit to have a "milestone" activity in which you interact with the people in pictures, simulating the frustration you feel when you forget how to say something basic off-the-cuff in a new language.
    The obvious downside for this program is the cost: $229 for Russian Level 1, for instance. Some people, such as myself, are able to get Rosetta Stone through corporate programs or universities. The other downer, depending on what your needs are, is that there is no explicit explanation for why the grammar is used the way it is.
    In other words, I have no idea what the different "cases" are in Russian, even though I understand that endings of words change in different constructions. On the other hand, small children who grow up fluent in English don't learn that in English the phrase "if I had known" is in the "pluperfect subjective tense"; they just learn to say "if I had known."
    A rival to Rosetta Stone is Transparent Language, which is less expensive ($179 for the complete edition) and owns the Byki products mentioned above. But Mac users beware: It's only for PC.
    Use it or lose it?
    All of these resources have shown me that, although I let many months lapse before trying to resume my Russian, I haven't lost it all. In fact, Grant Goodall, linguistics professor at the University of California, San Diego, says that if you spent a significant amount of time interacting in a language at some point -- even a decade ago or more -- a lot of it may return.
    "It seems to be that the higher your ability level that you attained to begin with, the more likely it is to come back later in life," he said.
    He also noted that, although your ability to learn a new language goes down with age, it never goes away completely. A 20-year-old will learn faster than a 40-year-old, who will learn quicker than a 60-year-old, but anyone at any age has the ability to take on a new tongue.
    I believe these digital resources are worthwhile tools for improving your language skills. Of course, nothing replaces the learning, and the joy, that comes with negotiating daily life in a different language in a foreign place.

    -courtesy of CNN

    Girl found in NY claims no memory of name, home, family

    Authorities are seeking the public's assistance in identifying a teenage girl who mysteriously turned up in Manhattan two weeks ago, claiming to have no memory of her family, her home -- or even her own name.

    The teen has recalled an excerpt from the fantasy novel "Fool's Fate" by Robin Hobb.

    "I just want to know who I am," the girl says in a statement released by the New York City Administration for Children's Services. The teen, who is being referred to as Jane Doe, continues, "I want to know who I am and what happened to me."
    The Caucasian young woman, described by New York ACS as "very soft-spoken," is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, light-skinned, with short, straight, cropped blond hair and blue eyes. Doctors are estimating her age to be between 14 and 17.
    ACS Commissioner John B. Mattingly appealed to the public in a statement, "asking anyone who may know this young woman to help us locate her family as quickly as possible, so we can safely reunite her with those who love her."
    The girl was found in midtown Manhattan around 12:30 a.m. October 9 outside the Covenant House youth shelter, although the organization tells CNN that she was not a resident at the time and did not appear as if she intended to seek refuge at the facility.
    According to its Web site, with nearly 7,000 youths seeking shelter per year, "Covenant House New York is the nation's largest adolescent care agency serving homeless, runaway and at-risk youth."
    A security guard for the shelter noticed the girl walking around on the sidewalk near Covenant House and approached her. Finding her unresponsive, he called the New York City Police Department.
    Don't Miss
    Missing teen's parents help other families cope
    Police officers interviewed the young woman, but it became clear that she couldn't provide authorities with any information about herself. The NYPD said she was wearing military green camouflage pants, a black shirt and a pair of black sneakers when she was discovered.
    Children's Services says the girl recently wrote down the name "Amber" and has responded to it on one occasion, but she has no idea whether it's her name.
    On another occasion, she is said to have recalled certain words, which turned out to be an excerpt from the fantasy novel "Fool's Fate" by Robin Hobb. The girl is also apparently writing a fantasy story of her own that features a heroine named Rian "who's been raised by the commander of the guard post on the edge of a fantasy kingdom," the young woman said.
    While the girl is confused and her story remains vague, Mattingly said, "she is safe with us, and we are doing all we can to help her, but she needs to find her family."
    She is apparently reviewing materials for a high school GED exam, saying that she is able to do the math but has no recollection of studying the history and science portions. However, according to the Children's Services statement, the young woman "can easily retain the information."
    New York City Administration for Children's Services and police are asking anyone with information about the young woman or her family to contact the NYPD Missing Persons Squad at 212-694-7781 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS

    -Courtesy of CNN

    Berg “Haunted” After Watching Paranormal Activity view!

    Oh, sweet Jesus, that nice couple Katie and Micah are about to go to sleep again! They already suspect that their house is haunted. Micah has propped up his video camera in their bedroom to record any unusual phenomena, so they'll know what awful thing happened the previous night, while they were sleeping. The bedroom door moved a couple of inches and then ... moved back!

    Big hairy deal, say cynics who were bred on gross-out horror movies. Show us heads exploding, chests busting, legs sawed off. Yet the packed audience at a late-night screening of Paranormal Activity in Times Square this past week didn't need gore effects to be scared witless. Yes, they knew it was only a movie — one that, like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield and plenty others before it, used "found footage" to give a patina of realism to the fanciful events that were dreamed up by writer-director Oren Peli and are endured by actors Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston (using their real names). But when that door moved, the crowd's collective gasp just about sucked all the oxygen out of the theater.
    The campaign to bring Paranormal Activity to the public is already a movie-industry legend. Shot three years ago by Peli, an Israeli-born video maker, for $11,000 in a week in his house, the picture played a few fright festivals in 2007. While DreamWorks considered buying the rights to do a remake with stars, Steven Spielberg took a copy of PA home to watch it; when he finished his screening, he found his bathroom door inexplicably locked. (He thought the DVD was haunted.) Two weeks ago, Paramount started playing Peli's film at midnight in 16 college towns. Many showings were sold out. Sorry, come back next week, if you dare. No tickets created a hot ticket — the movie grossed $1.2 million in its early, limited engagements — and Paramount stoked the fever by urging fans to go online and "demand" a wider release. More than a million such requests came in, allowing Paramount's website to brag that PA was "the first-ever major film release decided by You."
    This weekend, PA has expanded to all-day runs on 159 screens in 44 cities, and according to early reports, it's headed for a box-office breakout — perhaps the highest three-day gross of any film showing in fewer than 200 venues. "Look out, cuz there's a freight train coming," an executive from a rival studio told Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke, "and Paramount is going to make a TON of cash on this pickup. Cuz they ain't spending anything on it, and who knows where the ceiling is!" The box-office figures will make headlines, giving the movie more free publicity and luring bigger crowds that are eager to learn what all the screaming is about. (See the 100 best movies of all time.)
    Beyond the viral ingenuity of the marketing, what's cool about PA is that it's not just a fun thrill ride; it's an instructive artistic experience. A horror-movie revisionist, Peli follows a less-is-more strategy. He knows that waiting for the big scary jolt does more damage to the nervous system than getting it. The tension builds slowly, as the apprehensive Katie, a student, and the skeptical Micah, a day trader, feel the first emotional tremors. The movie keeps us in its grip because we never leave the couple's haunted property and because all we see is what the camera has recorded when held by Micah or Katie, or when left on at night to monitor their bedroom. That claustrophobia creates a bond between the couple and the audience; they can't escape, and neither can we.
    Peli downplays shock and emphasizes suspense: a shadow creeping across a wall or the ripple of an unseen form under the bedsheets. The gore scenes in splatter movies carry a sadistic punch, but those are outside most moviegoers' experience. What Peli is interested in is dread, a feeling everyone is familiar with. (Will I lose my job? Has she found someone else? Why hasn't our kid come home yet? What's that strange rash?) Movies take that anxiety, crystallize it and, because fiction demands an ending, resolve it. The threat is provided, the fear made flesh, the monster confronted. All gone — feel better? Horror movies provide vicarious psychotherapy in an hour and a half. PA is different. At the end, it doesn't let viewers off the hook. It leaves them hanging and dares them to turn that last shiver into a laugh of relief that the delicious ordeal is over.

    Microsoft releases Windows 7

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp launched Windows 7 on Thursday in its most important release for more than a decade, aiming to win back customers after the disappointing Vista and strengthen its grip on the PC market.
    The world's largest software company, which powers more than 90 percent of personal computers, has received good reviews for the new operating system, which it hopes will grab back the impetus in new technology from rivals Apple Inc and Google Inc.
    "It's the first really significant release of Windows in a decade," analyst Brendan Barnicle of Pacific Crest Securities told Reuters Television. "Given the missteps around Vista, people really questioned Microsoft's relevancy in the technology space. So this is a critical first step for Microsoft regaining that credibility."
    The new system -- which is faster, less cluttered and has new touch-screen features -- comes almost three years after the launch of Vista, whose complexity frustrated many home users and turned off business customers.
    The success of Windows -- which accounts for more than half of Microsoft's profit -- is crucial for Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to revive the company's image as the world's most important software firm.
    "I have to say I'm chomping at the bit," Ballmer told an audience of Microsoft customers and partners in Toronto on Wednesday, adding that he is ready to make sales calls himself on Windows 7.
    Sales won't immediately impact the bottom line of Microsoft, which is expected to post a lower quarterly profit on Friday.
    - By guest writer, Suraj T.

    New feature added...

    We have added a new feature in the site. Its called AnswerTips by It allows readers to find definition of  words more quickly by double clicking most of the words in this website.

    Franken ANNIHILATES KBR attorney

    To expand on the diary somewhat, while it may be blatantly obvious to most of us here, there are those who have been trying to defend the "No" votes. In case anyone asks about what possible justification there might have been for voting against this amendment, there are only two:
    If the amendment was attached to some totally unrelated larger bill which you were against, and, and the only way to vote against the bill as a whole was to vote against this amendment (which happens in many cases).
    if the wording of the bill was too vague or open to massive abuse (the "unintended consequences" issue).
    HOWEVER, in this case, you could vote for the amendment and still vote against the main bill (which is actually a DoD spending bill anyway, not the sort of thing Republicans are going to be against as a rule), and the actual full text is VERY specific and narrow (bottom right of page S10069):
    Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.
    In other words, it specifically covers: --Violations of core civil rights --Rape --Assault --Torture --Kidnapping --Knowingly (or being criminally negligent about) hiring sick, sadistic, twisted rapist/murderer types
    These are all criminal actions which have absolutely NO business being dealt with via arbitration, which is intended for disputes over intellectual property, compensation, nondisclosure of corporate secrets, that sort of thing.
    In addition, this amendment doesn't force the companies abandon contracts with these provisions--it simply says that the Federal Government of the United States refuses to do businesses with those businesses that continue to do so. Halliburton is still free to do business with other corporations if they wish; they just lost their single biggest client, that's all.
    In this particular case, there are exactly zero legitimate reasons to vote against it. Christ, they could have at least abstained or something (for the record, 2 Democrats didn't vote at all due to illness or scheduling conflicts).

    Leech provides DNA against robber.

    SYDNEY (Reuters) – An Australian man faces jail for armed robberyafter police used blood from a leech to make a DNA match from a 2001crime scene, a court spokeswoman said on Monday.
    Peter Alec Cannon, 54, pleaded guilty to aggravated armed robbery in the Supreme Court in Launceston on the island state of Tasmania on Monday.
    Crown prosecutor John Ransom told the court that a policeman had picked up a leech from near a safe at the scene of the crime from which forensic scientists extracted blood and a DNA sample, according to a report in local newspaper The Mercury.
    Seven years later, when Cannon was arrested and charged with a drugs crime, police took a DNA sample from him and it matched the sample from the robbery.
    The court heard that Cannon and another man had robbed and assaulted a 71-year-old woman at her bushland home, stealing $500 from her.
    The court spokeswoman said Cannon was remanded in custody for sentencing on Friday this week.

    Mom teaches son how to shoot heroin, Son dies of OD

    A 46-year-old Burlington mom is in some serious trouble after she allegedly taught her 16-year-old son how to shoot heroin. The teen ended up overdosing and now prosecutors connecting her to the death. Parent of the year award! Thank you Wisconsin for showing us everything we don't want to be in life

    Patricia L. Strosina is charged with intentionally contributing to the delinquency of a child resulting in death. She could face 25 years in prison if convicted in connection to her son's Sep. 14 death.

    When police found the teen, he was slumped over a desk at his dad's house with a syringe, a burned spoon and other drug paraphernalia. He died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine.

    The story of this teen's fall into hard drugs is extremely depressing, especially for any parent who actually cares about their kids.

    Several witnesses, including a case worker, told investigators that the teen had been shooting heroin with his mother and that she originally taught him how to do it. She would even bring him along on drug runs and shoot up with him. Witnesses even saw her shoot him up. Strosina admitted to doing drugs with her son and said she used heroin with him a week before his death.


    Life possible on Europa, Jupiter's moon?

    A model of Europa's interior, including a global ocean. If a 100 kilometer-deep ocean existed below the Europan ice shell, it would be 10 times deeper than any ocean on Earth and would contain twice as much water as Earth's oceans and rivers combined. Credit: NASA/JPL
    New research suggests that there is plenty of oxygen available in the subsurface ocean of Europa to support oxygen-based metabolic processes for life similar to that on Earth. In fact, there may be enough oxygen to support complex, animal-like organisms with greater oxygen demands than microorganisms

    The global ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa contains about twice the liquid water of all the Earth’s oceans combined. New research suggests that there may be plenty of oxygen available in that ocean to support life, a hundred times more oxygen than previously estimated.
    The chances for life there have been uncertain, because Europa’s ocean lies beneath several miles of ice, which separates it from the production of oxygen at the surface by energetic charged particles (similar to cosmic rays). Without oxygen, life could conceivably exist at hot springs in the ocean floor using exotic metabolic chemistries, based on sulfur or the production of methane. However, it is not certain whether the ocean floor actually would provide the conditions for such life.
    Therefore a key question has been whether enough oxygen reaches the ocean to support the oxygen-based metabolic process that is most familiar to us. An answer comes from considering the young age of Europa’s surface. Its geology and the paucity of impact craters suggests that the top of the ice is continually reformed such that the current surface is only about 50 million years old, roughly 1% of the age of the solar system.
    Richard Greenberg of the University of Arizona has considered three generic resurfacing processes: gradually laying fresh material on the surface; opening cracks which fill with fresh ice from below; and disrupting patches of surface in place and replacing them with fresh material. Using estimates for the production of oxidizers at the surface, he finds that the delivery rate into the ocean is so fast that the oxygen concentration could exceed that of the Earth’s oceans in only a few million years. Greenberg presented his findings at the 41st meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences now under way in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.
    Greenberg says that the concentrations of oxygen would be great enough to support not only microorganisms, but also “macrofauna”, that is, more complex animal-like organisms which have greater oxygen demands. The continual supply of oxygen could support roughly 3 billion kilograms of macrofauna, assuming similar oxygen demands to terrestrial fish.
    The good news for the question of the origin of life is that there would be a delay of a couple of billion years before the first surface oxygen reached the ocean. Without that delay, the first pre-biotic chemistry and the first primitive organic structures would be disrupted by oxidation. Oxidation is a hazard unless organisms have evolved protection from its damaging effects. A similar delay in the production of oxygen on Earth was probably essential for allowing life to get started here.
    Richard Greenberg is the author of the recent book “Unmasking Europa: The Search for Life on Jupiter’s Ocean Moon”, which offers a comprehensive picture of Europa for the general reader.


    Weird Police Force

    A town's entire police force has quit in Hungary after winning more than £10 million in the lottery.

    The 15-strong squad in Budaors scooped the jackpot with their ticket on Tuesday and all resigned on the spot.

    Police chiefs have scrambled back-up units to the region until more full-time officers can be recruited.

    It was the sixth biggest win in Hungarian lottery history, reports the Daily Telegraph.

    Meanwhile, a woman in Ohio sparked a riot in a clothing store after falsely claiming she'd won the lottery and would pay for everyone's purchases.

    The woman arrived at the Burlington Coat Factory in Columbus by limousine and by the time police got there 500 people were inside with another 1,000 queueing.

    The woman was arrested after staff discovered she had no money and the whole stunt was a hoax.

    Angry customers threw merchandise around as they looted the store. Police said it looked as though a hurricane passed through it.

    Linda Brown, 45, was arrested over the incident. No charges have yet been filed, pending a mental evaluation.



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