Sunday, February 24, 2008

Neat Happenings in the World of Science

Words that prompt mental images

SOME words really do conjure up mental images, and that can drive you to distraction - literally.

Zachary Estes at the University of Warwick, UK, and his team asked students to identify a target letter appearing briefly at the top or bottom of a computer screen. Just before the letter appeared, some saw the word "hat" in the centre of the screen. Those students were slower and less accurate at identifying the target letter if it then appeared at the top of the screen (Psychological Science, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02051.x).

Estes thinks the brain associates "hat" with the "up" position, and conjures up a mental picture of a hat high on the screen. This distracts you from identifying a letter occupying the same space. "It's like putting two pictures on top of each other - it's difficult to see either of them clearly," he says.

Black hole still a heavyweight

The heaviest black hole formed from the collapse of a single star weighs as much as 33 Suns - double the previous record, new measurements confirm.

Black holes come in a range of sizes, from "supermassive" behemoths weighing billions of Suns to "stellar-mass" objects weighing a few times the Sun's mass.

These stellar-mass black holes form when a massive star dies, sending its outer layers exploding outwards in a supernova and collapsing its core into a black hole. There are limits to how massive the objects can become, based on the mass and chemical composition of the parent star.

The previous record holder is a black hole in the nearby galaxy M33. Called M33 X-7, it was measured to have 16 times the Sun's mass.

In late 2007, astronomers led by Andrea Prestwich of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, US, suggested a black hole called IC 10 X-1 was even heftier, with between 24 and 33 times the Sun's mass

For more go to source....

First Stars may have been Dark
The Dark Matter debate is fascinating.

Here is the next saga in the chapter.

The first stars to appear in the Universe may have been powered by dark matter, according to US scientists. Normal stars are powered by nuclear fusion reactions, where hydrogen atoms meld to form heavier helium.

But when the Universe was still young, there would have been abundant dark matter, made of particles called Wimps: Weakly Interacting Massive Particles.

These would have fused together and obliterated each other long before nuclear fusion had the chance to start.

As a result, the first stars would have looked quite different from the ones we see today, and they may have changed the course of the Universe's evolution - or at least held it up.

The theory, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, depends on particles that astronomers can't see, but are certain exist, and physicists have never detected. But the indirect evidence for their existence is overwhelming.

"Dark matter particles make up more than three-quarters of the mass of the Universe," says theoretical physicist Katherine Freese from the University of Michigan.

"In fact, billions of them are passing through each of us every second."

In the early Universe, there would have been even more.

For the rest go to the source..........

Monday, February 18, 2008

Twelve Ways to Improve Canada

1. Reform the country's immigration plan - add citizenship requirements of seven years, restrict dual citizenship status, force new immigrants whose first language is not English or French to obtain a working proficiency in either of these two languages within five years of obtaining landed immigrant status.

2. Add Medical user fees indexed to income. Those with no income or very little income will still receive free medical.

3. Re-establish the exclusiveness of a university education by limiting places at university. Alternatively encourage through apprenticeship programs the development of more home grown artisans.

4. Reform the senate so that it becomes an elected body.

5. Abolish all Human Rights Commissions - let courts deal with these issues instead.

6. Reform provincial transfer payment system so that 'receiver provinces' can break the dependency cycle.

7. Decrease overall income tax rates. Allow consumption taxation rates to remain as is.

8. Introduce the Death Penalty for Serial Killers.

9. Ban partial birth abortions.

10. Limit immigration to Toronto and other high density population areas.

11. Give more tax breaks to Canadian families having children.

12. Tax Lottery Winnings

Saturday, February 09, 2008

80 Sports Figures that I like

..although not all are currently active... here is my list...not in any order

1. Kenny Dalglish (Football)
2. John McEnroe
3. Jody Scheckter (F1)
4. Alan Hansen (Football)
5. Ian Rush (Football)
6. Roger Federer
7. Boris Becker
8. Johan Kriek
9. Johan Heunis (Rugby)
10. Danie Gerber (Rugby)
11. Bryan Habana (Rugby)
12. Aryton Senna (F1)
13. Chris Evert
14. Stefan Edberg
15. Roger Clemens
16. Joe Carter
17. Paul Molitor
18. Muhammad Ali
19. Nass Botha (Rugby)
20. Mark Spitz (Swimming)
21. Geoff Hunt (Squash)
22. Andre Joubert (Rugby)
23. Victor Matfield (Rugby)
24. John Barnes (Football)
25. Jimmy Greaves (Football)
26. Miguel Indurain (Cycling)
27. Matt Biondi (Swimming)
28. Greg Louganis (Diving)
29. Michael Jordan
30. Larry Bird
31. James Hunt (F1)
32. Lennox Lewis (Boxing)
33. Patrick Rafter (Tennis)
34. Sugar Ray Leonard
35. Don Bradman (Cricket)
36. Gary Sobers (Cricket)
37. Marvin Hagler
38. Graeme Pollock (Cricket)
39. Brian Mitchell (Boxing)
40. Victor Barna (Table Tennis)
41. Sean Thompson (Surfing)
42. Gary Kasparov (Chess)
43. Bobby Fischer (Chess - before he became a raving anti-semite)
44. Kevin Keegan (Football)
42. Stanley Matthews (Football)
43. Tom Finney (Football)
44. Ken Griffey Jr.
45. George Brett
46. Ted Williams
47. Joe Montana (US Football)
48. Jerry Rice (US Football)
49. Diego Maradona
50. Pele
51. Garrincha (Football)
52. Alfredo di Stefano (Football)
53. Thierry Henry (Football)
54. Bobby Orr
55. Viv Richards (Cricket)
56. Ian Botham (Cricket)
57. Ernie Els (Golf)
58. Tiger Woods (Golf)
59. Jack Nicklaus (Golf)
60. Gary Player (Golf)
61. Nick Faldo (Golf)
62. Tracey Austin (Tennis)
63. Guillermo Vilas (Tennis)
64. Bjorn Borg (Tennis)
65. Alain Prost (F1)
66. Sebastian Coe (Athletics)
67. Carl Lewis
68. Bruce Fordyce (Ultra-Marathon)
69. Ed Moses (Athletics)
70. Eric Heiden (Speed Skating)
71. Mario Lemieux (Hockey)
72. Magic Johnson
73. Tony Gwynn
74. Babe Ruth
75. Hank Aaron
76. Steven Gerrard (Football)
77. Ryan Babel (Football)
78. Fernando Torres (Football)
79. Chris Bosh
80. LeBron James


1. Spending time with my wife and son
2. Studying Physics
3. Teaching...most of the time...enjoy helping students
4. US Presidential Races
5. Reading/Studying History
6. Creating via writing
7. Time Alone
8. Meaning of Life Movies + Foreign Films
9. Playing Chess
10. Watching Footer - particularly Liverpool
11. Watching Roger Federer in action
12. Driving on Open Roads
13. Thai Food
14. Playing through Historical What Ifs?
15. General Knowledge Contests
16. Guessing People's accents
17. Visiting Museums and Art Galleries
18. Watching a decent documentary (all too infrequent these days)
19. Judge Dredd
20. Twilight Zone
21. Classic Comics
22. Following the Springbok Rugby Team and Northern Transvaal (the Bulls)
23. Middle Eastern Politics
24. Evolutionary Theory
25. Psychometrics in Psychology especially with respect to intelligence testing
26. IQ Tests for fun
27. Ethiopian Food
28. Cats
29. Monty Python
30. Mathematics
31. Speculative Fiction
32. War Movies
33. Adult Comedy
34. Open minded people
35. Logic
36. Fajitas
37. Going to the Beach
38. Leisurely bicycling
39. Working out on Elliptical Machine
40. The Olympic Games
41. The World Cup
42. Great Debates/Intellectual Chats
43. Reading Mark Steyn and Dennis Prager
44. Vietnamese Pho Soups
45. South African memories......
46. Beauty in all its forms
47. People with vision ...all too few
48. Limericks
49. A good joke
50. Puns.....