A great variety of news — to help you escape those awkward moments in holiday dinner conversation.
- Hope on a pale blue dot: Whether you’re more concerned about the soul or the solstice, December provides a good opportunity for reflecting on cosmic themes.
- Fossils show male dinosaurs did the brooding and incubating.
- Archaeologists discover evidence of our earliest cave-dwelling ancestors.
- Stone Age graves oriented with path of the full moon.
- This real-life mystery is set in the Louvre and the clues are hidden behind a 16th-century masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci. Remind you of anything?
- ‘Hobbit’ is an entirely new species, concludes anthropology professor.
- Uncovering ancient Egyptian secrets: Liverpool’s long fascination with the Land of the Pharaohs.
- New book claims General Patton was assassinated, with the connivance of US leaders, to silence his criticism of allied war leaders. Target: Patton: The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton is available at Amazon US (now) & UK (pre-order). From Amazon’s customer reviews: Patton had been warned that he was on a hit list and he told his family that he didn’t expect to leave Europe alive.
- Conspiracy theorists awaken! Man who set up alternate email system for White House dies in a plane crash. Remember those missing emails that the White House has known about since 2005? They just started looking for them. Update: Democracy Now has much more on this story.
- Interview with the environmental activist who outbid the oil companies for land Bush put up for grabs in Utah.
- Pope praises Galileo’s astronomy. What a difference four centuries make.
- Archaeologists dig the present.
- In bid to contact extraterrestrials, alien hunters are sending text messages into space. Why not try telepathy?
- How we went to the Moon and ended up discovering Earth.
- Colours point to life on Mars. Sans photo, The Register provides a less optimistic view.
- Uncharted forest spotted on Google Earth leads to discovery of a host of new species. Photo gallery, more.
- Microscopic plankton get the big picture.
- Octopuses give eight thumbs up for high-def TV. Best promo I’ve seen for the HD difference.
- Scientists develop new definition of saltwater which they say will improve the accuracy of climate-change studies and weather predictions.
- Upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere found to be much lower than expected.
- Cassini finds evidence of continental drift-type events on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Thunderbolts offers a different perspective.
- NASA seeks space shuttle display ideas.
- The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington has dibs on shuttle Discovery, but the rush is already on to buy Atlantis and Endeavour. London’s Science Museum is trying to raise £30m for Endeavour, and Florida may try to raise $42m for a shuttle to display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
- NASA’s questions for would-be shuttle buyers.
- Keeping the station out of this world: NASA inks deal for ISS plasma drive tests.
- Is Obama going to gut NASA? Some blame NASA’s Michael Griffin for bumpy transition from Bush to Obama.
- Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office says replacement for shuttle must serve as a bridge craft. I vote for these bridges.
- Virgin Galactic’s odd-looking carrier aircraft, designed to be the first stage of a commercial spaceline system, makes its maiden test flight. FAA approves construction of Spaceport America, future host of Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flights.
- Beyond the North Pole: Send a message up to the space station.
- World’s reserves of coal may be nearly exhausted.
- Luckily for us, fusion energy may be coming in from the ‘cold’.
- New evidence strongly links global warming to increased frequency of severe storms and rainfall.
- Study clears cannabis of schizophrenia rap.
- Bow down before your Stealth Robot Overlords, you puny fleshlings!
- Paging Mr Orwell: Ohio prof develops CCTV people-tracker software.
- Censored scenes from the Congress WMD report.
- People blindly follow morally questionable orders from superiors, study finds.
- Negative memories fade more quickly as we age.
- Good news, guys: ‘Beer goggles’ last much longer for women than for men.
- Sneezing may be linked to thoughts of sex
- Scientists are working on a bionic sex chip to stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers. No mention of potential social and economic fallout.
- If you could pop a pill to raise your IQ, would you?
- Dean Radin remarks on the will to disbelieve in ‘intentional chocolate’.
- The newborn who had two feet, a hand and a thigh embedded in his brain. Graphic photo included.
- 6 insane discoveries that science can’t explain. Warning: Includes language some readers may find offensive.
- Scottish woman injured in big cat attack.
- What’s Shakespeare to Us, and We to Him? Plenty. First Chapter of Marjorie Garber’s Shakespeare and Modern Culture (Amazon US & UK).
- Consider the Philosopher.
- Specializing in Problems That Only Seem Impossible to Solve.
- Thousands mark winter solstice and Yule festival across UK.
- You can donate your technical skills to non-profits this holiday season, and possibly win some awesome schwag in the process.
Quote of the Day:
You’ve got to be physically pretty strong to be any good at it at all. You’ve got to have a hard-core mental attitude. You’ve got to have the right mantra. You’ve got to have dedication, a sense of security, safety and sensitivity with your partners, and a good sense of balance. It’s a combination of many, many things. You need to have the capability or desire to accept a certain amount of risk. A lot of it is maybe spiritual, not a religious type, but you have to have an affinity with the outdoors.
You’re putting yourself on the line. Man used to put himself on the line all the time. Nowadays we’re protected by the police, fire, everything. There’s not much adventure left. Unless you look for it.
Legendary mountaineer Fred Beckey, still climbing at age 85.