Sunday, January 30, 2011

Poland looking toward the nuclear direction

Poland is forward-looking, and looking at getting $25 billion Euros in investments in nuclear power capabilities. They want to have electricity from nuclear power flowing by 2020, partly to reduce dependence on Russia.

Poland eyes EUR25 bln investments as it goes nuclear

Nuclear power for Poland, but at what price?

Is this a real result about the Greenland ice sheet?

A new study purports to show that summer temperatures exert less of an influence on Greenland ice sheet melting that previously believed. This result is based on measurements of ice flow for six outlet glaciers. I think that this is a small subset, and I also think that overall ice loss has to be evaluated via satellite or aircraft survey in addition to changing any general view of the threat to the ice sheet from warming.

Greenland ice sheet a complex mystery

Shepherd and his team used satellite observations of six landlocked glaciers in south-west Greenland, acquired by the European Space Agency, to study how ice flow developes in years of markedly different melting.

Despite the fact that the initial speed up of ice melting was similar in all years, slowdown occurred soonest in years which were warmer than others, suggesting that these years of abundance triggers an early switch in the plumbing at the base of the ice, causing a pressure drop that slows down the ice speeds, behaviour that is similar to mountain glaciers, which sees summertime speed up of ice reduce once the melt-water from the glaciers can drain efficiently.

My question: what about glaciers that drain to the sea, like the huge Jakobshavn?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Murray on the verge?

I commented via tweet that an Andy Murray victory at the Australian Open would really set up Wimbledon anticipation. It could happen, with both Federer and Nadal ousted, even though Djokovic is not going to be an easy final. Murray staved off a set point in the second set to get to the final.

This made me wonder; when was the last tennis grand slam final without either Nadal or Federer in it?

Actually, it wasn't real long ago; it was the 2008 Australian Open final, where Djokovic defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. I'd forgotten about that. Before that it was the 2005 Aussie, with Marat Safin over Lleyton Hewitt, and before that it was the 2004 French, with Gaston Gaudio over Guillermo Coria.

So since the beginning of 2004, there have been 3 finals without either Nadal or Federer in contention. Geeze. 3 out of 29.

Nice to have a bit of variety down under, eh mate?

Andy Murray beats David Ferrer in Australian Open semi-final

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New plans for biofuel

Though I'm obviously a nuclear advocate, I know that there is a place for biofuels in a mixed-energy economy, which is where the U.S. and the world at large will have to be headed, eventually. While nuclear could provide much of the power for low-weight transportation, i.e.,
electric cars, nothing other than something with a high energy output in comparison to its weight and volume would work for things like trucks, trains, and planes. That's where I think biofuels and biodiesel come in.

Previously I've noted that food waste should be recycled; food waste is an excellent feedstock for biodiesel. I also think that farm waste (i.e. animal poop) can work in the same regard. So also for human poop. So that's a lot of feedstocks for biodiesel. The other liquid biofuel of note is biomass ethanol, notably cellulosic, which might work for trucks (reserving the diesel for trains and potentially airplanes, if they can make bio-kerosene -- I'll have to look that up).

This article describes plans to make both. Let's keep the good news coming.

Energy department backs biofuel plant

Yes, there is biokerosene. I should have remembered that. It needs to be made from plant oils; can those be grown and harvested sustainably, enough for the all the planes flying in the

KLM fuels Boeing 747 with biokerosene

Airbus and TAM Airlines to support jatropha-based bio-kerosene jet fuel processing plant project in Brazil

Rim shot

Opportunity rover won't be roving for a few days, but I thought this particular shot of the rim of Santa Maria crater was worth a second look. If you go the link, there are 3D (red-blue) and false color pictures, too.

Santa Maria crater rim

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pleistocene Park?

It's been talked about before, but apparently a team of researchers led by a Japanese scientist have a plan to create a baby woolly mammoth using cloned-cell technology, and DNA from a frozen Siberian mammoth carcass

A mammoth in 4 years?

They plan on taking nuclei from the mammoth cells and inserting them into an elephant's egg cells from which the nuclei have been removed. This will create an embryo that contains the mammoth's genes. The embryo will then be inserted into the elephant's womb, and the animal will, hopefully, give birth to a mammoth. According to The Daily Tech, [Dr. Akira] Iritani said:

"The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently, but now stands at about 30 percent. I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years."

After they study it, then they'll probably eat it. This is Japan, after all. Eating species on the verge of extinction is their specialty, so why not dine on a species that actually IS extinct?

"I thought we were done with this nonsense 10,000 years ago!"

Bilateral symmetry

Brooklyn Decker demonstrates the virtues of having two of everything (with the exception of nose and navel), in the right place and in the right proportion.

Protective coloration

Rachel McAdams wears camouflage scarlet.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sensuality and artistry, part 2

If you haven't heard of Steve Hanks, it's very possible you've seen his works of art and not known it; a number of his paintings have been turned into posters that have sold widely. I first saw one of my favorites on the wall of a hair salon, called "A Winter's Day". I would advise the young lady not to go outside in that rig.

Put simply, Hanks is an extraordinary water color painter. He has a special way of making the watercolors look like oils. And the other thing, he can paint a lot of different subjects; he's great with kids -- but he paints truly luscious, appealing, attractive, sensual nudes.

So it is with great interest that I find two new Hanks nudes.

"Lost in the Reverie"

"Second Thoughts"

Some more examples of Hanks:

The Venus-de-Milish "After the Shower"

And he also has a Kiss:

And if you peruse his full portfolio, you have to wonder: where does he find his models??? (And can I visit there?)

Sensuality and artistry, part 1

I've seen an awful lot of Rodin's famous, familiar, iconic, "The Kiss" sculpture recently, mainly because it's featured on the cover of "The Science of Kissing" by Sheril Kirshenbaum. If you don't remember what it looks like, here's one version below.

All very sweet and romantic. (Not quite, if you read the story behind "The Kiss".)

What I barely remembered but recently accidentally recalled was that Rodin had another, more sensual (i.e. "hot") sculpture of a kiss, entitled "Eternal Spring" (alternately "Eternal Springtime"). One version of it in bronze is shown below, followed by a review.

(Now if it was me in that position I might be a little more, ahem, interested, but maybe it's because the guy is trying to keep both of them from falling off the side of a cliff with his other arm.)

Eternal Spring, also known as Eternal Springtime, probably modeled 1881, this marble executed 1906–7
Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917)

Links to three other pictures of this work:

Eternal Spring 1

Eternal Spring 2

Eternal Spring 3

UN chief calls for clean energy for everyone

Ban-Ki Moon spoke to the World Future Energy Summit today, calling on the nations of the world to provide clean energy to everyone. Laudable goal.

"Our challenge is transformation. We need a global clean energy revolution -- a revolution that makes energy available and affordable for all," he [Moon] told participants in the fourth edition of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

"This is essential for minimising climate risks, for reducing poverty and improving global health, for empowering women and meeting the Millennium Development Goals, for global economic growth, peace and security, and the health of the planet," he said in his keynote speech.

Maybe I should have said laudable GOALS.

Meanwhile, I like the words of the Sultan:

"Sultan al-Jaber, the chief executive officer of Masdar, a body created by oil-rich Abu Dhabi to champion the cause of promoting clean energy, stressed the need to use a mix of energy resources.

"Energy must come from a mix of sources... Solar energy is clean, efficient and cost-effective. A mix should also include peaceful nuclear energy, and, of course, renewable energy," he said."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tell me more, tell me more

An intriguing, yet highly un-informative, article on SpaceDaily hints that the Russians will be launching a new oceanography satellite that apparently uses radio frequencies (I'm guessing that means microwave*) to "provide data on ... oceanic temperature and salinity, as well as moisture levels and temperature on land"

The thing is, the Europeans have already launched SMOS** , which does that, and the Americans are going to soon launch (June 9 of this year) Aquarius -- which does that too.

So what does the Russian satellite do differently (if it does) than SMOS and Aquarius? Like the title says -- tell me more. There is apparently nothing else out on the English-speaking Web about this. I guess if I did find anything it would be in Cyrillic and that would not do me much good.

* Rereading the article, quote, "The satellite will use a frequency of 21 centimeters, which ensures the complete "transparency" of the earth's atmosphere ... " LET ME JUST POINT OUT that 21 centimeters is the measure of a wavelength, not a frequency (that would be in Hz), but yes, it is in the microwave range.

** TERRIFIC animation at this Web site, by the way.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I think, only in France...

... would a sculptor propose to erect ...

a gigantic sculpture of a reclining nude woman...

... on the banks of the idyllic, famed Loire River...

... behind a historic, ancient church ... where there is still a school! ...

... with her thighs spread open, widely and invitingly.

I truly didn't believe this one either, until I read about it.

What do you think?

If you think albedo loss means...

... you aren't interested in getting it on with the ladies, you might be a ... red-stater. Or a FReeper.

(The real condition of concern lady-wise is loss of libido. This post is not about that.)

New (but expected) news that the melting ice and snow of the polar regions, particularly the Arctic, is causing a positive feedback for global warming. Bright white areas reflect the vast majority of the energy of solar irradiance falling upon them. Darken those areas, either by soot deposition or melting, exposing darker land (on land) or darker sea (for sea ice) means more irradiance turns into heat and less gets reflected back into space.

All elementary, all figure-outable by even the densest neophyte. But what's going on?

"Satellite data indicated that Arctic sea ice, glaciers, winter snow and Greenland's ice were bouncing less energy back to space from 1979 to 2008. The dwindling white sunshade exposes ground or water, both of which are darker and absorb more heat.

The study estimated that ice and snow in the Northern Hemisphere were now reflecting on average 3.3 watts per square meter of solar energy back to the upper atmosphere, a reduction of 0.45 watt per square meter since the late 1970s."

And the envelope please...

" "This reduction in reflected solar energy through warming is greater than simulated by the current crop of climate models," he said of the findings by a team of U.S.-based researchers and published in the journal Nature Geoscience Sunday."

Radiative forcing and albedo feedback from the Northern Hemisphere cryosphere between 1979 and 2008 (links to the abstract; to read the whole thing, pay for it or subscribe to Nature Geoscience)

So... another article about this, even equipped with a diagram!

14% less solar energy reflected back into space

Quotes to mark for later

By later, I mean a few years from now.

1. "Roger Pielke Jr., has a name for this: the iron law of climate policy. Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado and the author of the new book The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming, which advocates energy innovation, writes that when climate policy is seen to get in the way of development and economic growth, climate policy loses."

2. "We need to put in the money and the time to develop significantly better and cheaper forms of green energy, first in the lab and then in the real world. Just as American scientists created the atomic bomb, pioneered the space program, and launched the information and biotechnology revolutions, they can create the energy solutions needed for the future. We just have to give them a chance—which we haven’t yet. Here’s an astonishing statistic: Since the beginning of the 1980s—around the time climate change began to become a concern—federal investment in energy research and development has generally shrunk. Temporary stimulus spending aside, the U.S. government spends less than $5 billion a year on energy research and development, compared with more than $30 billion for health research and more than $80 billion on military R&D."

3. "Of course, at a time when climate-science denial seems to have become a badge of honor in the Republican Party—which also wants to take a guillotine to government spending—perhaps this approach is doomed to failure, too. But eventually, hopefully, our collective national fever will break, and when it does, we need to be ready with the right energy policy: one that can appeal to more than just a narrow band of bright greens. Amplified energy research won’t be the whole show. Efficiency standards, smarter cities, and perhaps eventually carbon standards—we’ll need a royal flush of policies to stand a chance. But it has to begin with innovation, not regulation."

From "Cap and Trade is Dead. Now What?" by Bryan Walsh

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Courts allow Italy to hold nuclear power referendum

The Italian courts are allowing Italians to vote about whether they can build new nuclear power stations. I for one (as one might guess) hope they vote the right way.

Court ruling on Italy nuclear power referendum

"Italy can hold a referendum on the planned re-introduction of nuclear power after a ban introduced by a 1987 vote following the Chernobyl disaster, the Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday.

The referendum against government norms aimed at allowing construction of nuclear power plants, which was proposed by the opposition Italy of Values party, was found to be "admissible", the court said in a statement."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Now joining the expectancy club

Kate Hudson, who I have celebrated in several postings on this blog (you are invited to search) has now proven her continued fertility and attractiveness by getting into the procreational mode with her current boyfriend, rocker of some kind Matt Bellamy.

I have full faith and confidence in Kate that after she gets fat and happy with this tyke in her tummy, she'll get back into killer desirable shape again.

Here's Kate in desirable shape:
Cinema Italiano (from "Nine")

No kidding, 2010 was warm

So far, two out of three of the "major" global temperature reporting agencies, NASA and NOAA, have just come out with summaries of 2010, and for the calendar year comparison, 2010 tied with 2005. It should be noted that the skeptics' favorite year, 1998, is third behind both these years, and tied with a number of other of the 2000-2009 years. And there are significant differences between 1998 and 2010, too.

2010 tied with 2005 for warmest year in the surface temperature record

NCDC Global Climate Analysis for 2010


For 2010, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature tied with 2005 as the warmest such period on record, at 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). 1998 is the third warmest year-to-date on record, at 0.60°C (1.08°F) above the 20th century average.

NASA Research Finds 2010 Tied for Warmest Year on Record

WASHINGTON -- Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis released Wednesday by researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years, putting them into a statistical tie. In the new analysis, the next warmest years are 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007, which are statistically tied for third warmest year. The GISS records begin in 1880.

Meanwhile on the satellite side, the UAH lower tropospheric temperature data from satellites also has 2010 in a statistical tie, but this time with 1998.

December 2010 UAH global temperature update

So everything is consistent with 2010 as a very warm year, as if we didn't know that already. Despite the December-January cold in a few isolated (but highly publicized) northern hemisphere regions.

Now we have to see what the UK Met Office says about December 2010 and the year 2010.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Everybody's getting pregnant, & Shakira's available!

Fertility news: Jewel is pregnant, Marion Cotillard is pregnant, Tia Mowry is pregnant, and Jennie Finch is pregnant with her 2nd.

What the heck??? I guess this is part of the reason that the world population will hit 7 billion in 2011.

But... in news to gladden the heart and hearten the loins, Shakira is on a supposed "temporary" break, romantically at least, from her boyfriend and manager. This means that she might be technically available for a date. For the sheer bravado of doing so, if I was younger and singler, I'd sure like to take her out for a night on the town. And maybe a night she'd never forget. Scratch that -- it'd be a night I'd never forget. I, on the other hand, am likely utterly forgettable for a girl at her level. But a guy can dream and fantasize and imagine...

The Year of Natalie Portman: Nominations, movies, engagement, pregnancy

Try packing all this into one year; apparently in a celebratory mood after the arduous "Black Swan" shoot, and the bevy of other movies that she must have been working on -- and perhaps somewhat in the mood from shooting simulated sex with Ashton Kutcher -- it now turns out that Natalie and her former boyfriend, now fiance, hot male ballet dancer/choreographer Benjamin Millepied got engaged and got it on, not necessarily in that order, with the "got it on" aspect of the relationship apparently conducted in a manner conducive to the emplacement of the male
seed within the female channel at such a time as to foster a successful fertilization.

In other words, Natalie is preggers, and will be displaying what the hot and versatile young movie actress likes to wear in the manner of glamorous maternity wear on a number of red carpets during the upcoming awards season, and particularly during the press junkets for "Thor".

Natalie comments on her baby's father

Natalie Portman plays another other woman

OK, so we know that Natalie Portman has a bravura role in the "Black Swan", and might win an Oscar. And she's in the somewhat raunchy (if you find the R-estricted trailer, and trust me, it can be done) "No Strings Attached" with Ashton Kutcher. And she's in the sword-and-shield knighthood spoof "Your Highness", in which she plays a bowman with a nice bottom. And she's the love interest in "Thor", coming this summer.

Turns out that there's going to be ANOTHER Natalie Portman vehicle, "The Other Woman" which was actually made a couple of years ago and shelved. Not sure why. But the trailer for "The Other Woman" is out, and in it she plays the other woman, who the man doing the other woman does, and she gets pregnant for all her efforts. And dramatic consequences ensue. From the trailer, it appears that Natalie's other woman, i.e. mistress, beds the married guy (don't recognize the guy, but Lisa Kudrow plays the p-o'ed wife), gets pregnant (life imitates art, as we'll see soon), has the baby, the baby DIES -- this indicates it's not a rom-com -- then I think she marries the father of the baby, thus becoming stepmother to a not-really-liking-this-arrangement son, and various drama ensueth. So, let's get this all straight:

In the "Black Swan", Natalie plays a two-way (black and white, that is) ballerina who also tries it both ways with Mila Kunis;

In "No Strings Attached", Natalie plays a doctor who plays doctor with Ashton Kutcher, trying to just keep it physical but apparently not fully succeeding;

In "The Other Woman", Natalie plays the other woman, again not fully constraining her
wanton sexual desires OR using birth control, and thus making a mess of things for
quite a few people (well, the cheating hubby could have used foresight over the
foreskin and prevented all these romantic and procreative complications);

And in "Thor", Natalie has a romantic relationship with a hunky blonde Norse God who
carries a hard hammer in his hand and isn't afraid to use it.

Princess Amidala, you've grown up!

And if that wasn't all, let us now segue to Natalie's personal news, which by now if you've been paying any attention has been all over the grocery store racks and the Internet gossip sites...

Speaking of cheeky...

... Natalie Portman and her delightful derriere featured in another 2011 movie

This article is about the Portman coverup; apparently her personal posterior was too wonderful to be featured in the trailer for another movie she's in, called "Your Highness". It's easy to find what was covered up for the trailer, particularly nice because she's wearing a decidedly out-of-epoch thong. And wearing it wonderfully well, it is important to add.

But this begs the vital question; how many 2011 movies is she going to be in,

While I ponder that, feel free to ponder this:


Official Trailer

Not so official trailer

Weather vs. climate; get it right or go to prison

If you don't understand that it gets cold in winter, sometimes very cold, or that sometimes it might snow a foot and a half in the right places in a world that is gradually getting warmer, than according to this cheeky video,

you're going to JAIL!

Global warming
(links to YouTube)

Boy, I can wish that this was true for a few offenders.

Petra Nemcova gets engaged

One of the (apparently) nicest gorgeous women in the world is Petra Nemcova, who after the personal suffering caused by the Indonesian tsunami (broken legs and spending 12 hours in a tree) and personal heartache (her fiance was drowned) caused by the same event, dedicated some of her efforts to the suffering of other people caused by natural disasters, like the
Haiti earthquake.

Well, someone who's both nice and gorgeous shouldn't go through life without a love partner, and apparently she's got one now. Good for her (I guess it goes without saying, even though I'll say it, that it's also good for him, I expect).

Petra Nemcova, Jamie Belman engaged

Speaking of the gorgeous level of Nemcova:

Today's January 11 posts kick off a series of babe-related postings over the next week or so. Don't be surprised.

Scumble and scumbling are words

1. To soften the colors or outlines of (a painting or drawing) by covering with a film of opaque or semiopaque color or by rubbing.
2. To blur the outlines of: a writer who scumbled the line that divides history and fiction.
1. The effect produced by or as if by scumbling.
2. Material used for scumbling.

scumbling: What is scumbling?

Scumbling usually refers to the application of a fine layer of paint with a very dry brush. It is sometimes described as a glaze effect, but rather than the pigments being dispersed in a transparent medium, scumbling creates a fine mesh of opaque pigment.

I was just thinking Miranda should have been done by now

I truly was thinking to myself last week that Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom were very due to be new parents, and today I find that they are indeed new parents of a baby boy. There sure is a lot of pressure on the tyke to be gorgeous.

Now, I wonder what kind of magical powers the offspring of a woodland elf and a Victoria's Secret angel will have...

(or, for that matter, the kid of two people named after characters from Shakespeare -- I hope they don't name their new child Puck)

Miranda Kerr, Orlando Bloom welcome baby boy

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Science of Kissing" mentioned in Daily Mail

One of my favorite blogs is the Intersection, and one of my favorite blogging teams is Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, who write it.

Sheril has a new book out, directly entitled "The Science of Kissing", and well-reviewed. I was tickled that the book was mentioned in a Daily Mail article, in which two things are noted:

a. a lot more is remembered detail-wise about the first kiss than one's loss of virginity (but I have good recall and I remember both!), and

b. men kissing women try to pass them a dose of testosterone, and the best way to do this is with small and more frequent kisses. Thumbs-up!

I think both of those things are important.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New normals for weather forecasting, economic models

I always wondered when they were going to do this; so now they are; the National Climate Data Center is redefining average (also called normal) temperatures, to better characterize weather based on comparison to them.

Does that make sense?

Climate Shifts Changing New Weather "Normals"

The "new normals" will update the averages for temperatures, rainfall and snow. A climate normal bases itself on the weather patterns of a particular region over a 30-year period. Every decade, in accordance with international agreements, the National Climate Data Center releases new temperature and rain and snowfall normals for 10,000 regions across the country. ...

The current normals rely on weather patterns that occurred between 1971 and 2000. The new normals, which will be released later in the year, will drop the 1970s -- a decade marked by cool temperatures -- and add the hottest recorded decade in history, the 2000s.

The one thing that I think this is bad for is that cold snaps will now be even colder than normal, and heat waves will be less hotter than normal. More fodder for the climate change deniers.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"The Cape" starts Sunday

Just a short comment that I'm looking forward to the new series "The Cape". Sounds like it might be a good blend of the superhero genre and the real-world police procedural. The previews held promise, and the show also features winsome Summer Glau (fan site) (hot pic) (very hot large pic) (very pretty pic) and supercute Izabella Miko (Wonderwall Twitterview, with gallery) on the distaff side. Not a bad combination.

I have a history of liking short-run series. I still miss "Maximum Bob"!

England wins the Ashes series

OK, I thought it was going to be closer, and more exciting. (The second Test was pretty astonishing.) But clearly Australia needs what they call in American sports, a rebuilding season. I wonder, demographically, how many cricket players Australia has compared to England. (I also, wonder, demographically, how many more cricket players India might have than either of them). I tried some quick Google searching but couldn't find an answer. Clearly it's a popular sport in some countries, especially those rich with tradition (like England, or India) and also which have sufficient number of cricket grounds to field world-class teams.

I think one of the critical problems is money; like the difference in getting top-class athletes to compete in less-rewarding sports like track and field compared to basketball in the USA, obviously a young UK boy can aspire to a lot bigger paycheck playing football (soccer) compared to cricket, and one thing England has is a lot of football teams).

I also wonder where the West Indies rank these days. They used to be ranked way up high, especially when Brian Lara was playing for them. (Just checked and they're currently 8th).

But given the tradition and the fact that it's just plain fun to watch, I'll keep up with cricket.


Ashes 2011: England win series 3-1

The post-series celebration

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Speaking of which, tilapia sushi

In a previous post about the exorbitant price just paid for a bluefin tuna, I said "I'll take tilapia". It turns out that yes, sushi can be made from tilapia.

Alert the Japanese culture.

The Sea Shepherds have a new high-speed trimaran

With the Ady Gil speedboat trimaran having lost its bow, the Sea Shepherds have brought a new high speed interceptor/instigator/interruptor into the annual whaling battle, GOJIRA. Shades of Godzilla. I've obviously got issues with the way that Japan consumes a lot of what comes out of the sea, and the Sea Shepherds also took on the bluefin tuna travesty, so if this effort could influence the overall Japanese attitude toward consumption of seafood (I guess I'm forced to include whale under that category), then I'm in favor.


I kinda wish that the Sea Shepherd battle against the whalers wasn't quite so ... publicity-seeking, but sometimes you've got to make a stand. Mahatma Gandhi showed what passive resistance can do, and these guys are continuing that tradition, albeit a little more actively. I'll keep boycotting all tuna products.

Straight into battle: High-tech anti-whaling vessel clashes with Japanese fleet in freezing Southern Ocean

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Venus in color and 3D (topographically)

The link below is to just an amazing high-resolution image of the normally cloud-enshrouded surface of Venus, based on data acquired by the miraculous Magellan Orbiter (with help from a couple others):

North polar region of Venus

The link to "Full Size" shows the entire polar region, which is on the verge of astonishing. Ya gotta admire the technology.

5th Ashes Test - Aussies try to keep it going

As of this MOMENT in the 5th Ashes Test in Sydney, Australia needs 222 just to tie England in their second innings. That'll be tough, but it's not impossible. England has four wickets.

ASHES coverage as it happen(s) or happen(ed)

Can't they SEE this is ridiculous?

A bluefin tuna (caught in the Pacific, amazingly enough) sold for nearly USD $400K in Japan yesterday.

That's nuts. And dreams of a haul like that are what keep the black-market overfishers in the Med going for the gold. Pretty much literally.

Makes me sick. Make mine tilapia, please.

Record bluefin tuna sale

(T-shirt source: End of the Line)

Honey, take a closer look at this

OK, supposedly it's an "intimate moment" between Cheryl Cole and Derek Hough on vacay in SA, but I think he's just making sure that her navel is still in its proper position.

Pillow talk

In other news, Cheryl is in Elle. And there's a video, too.

Great hair, great eyes, great smile, adorable accent (and it doesn't seem quite so thick), great shape... but what really tops off the package is her dimples. She's CUTE.

Derek, I hope you're lucky enough to have her and it's not just for show. Go for it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Checking in with 5th Ashes Test in Sydney

Quick update: Aussie first innings 280, England still batting as I write this, at 486 for 6 (486 runs in, 6 wickets down). Oops, stumps called (end of the day) at 488 for 7, just after Ian Bell, with a very decent 115, was caught for an out. So England has a 200+ run lead going into day 4. England is obviously the better team this tima; Aussies will have to reorganize their cricket to be competitive again.

2010 volcanic eruptions round-ups

Two different volcanic eruption "best of" (or is that worst of? probably depends on how close you are) compilations for 2010.

One is the Eruptions Blog Pliny Award, which I commented on with nominations, a couple of which were picked up as Honorable Mentions (Erta Ale, Pacaya) -- and my top two were the consensus top 2, Merapi as first runner-up, who will serve in case the Pliny Award-winning volcano is unable to fulfill its duties; and the attention-grabbing, tongue-twisting (unless you're
Icelandic) glacier-melting Eyjafjallajokull.

The other is Discovery Channel's top 10 listing,

Top Volcanic Eruptions of 2010

which has some Kamchatkan volcanoes listed, and Santiaguito in Guatemala, which I didn't notice at the time. The Eruptions Blog Santiaguito post has a couple of links to some wild and crazy, emphasis on the crazy, videos of tourists standing on the crater rim when the volcano lets loose. Not an activity for the faint of heart.

Nuclear vs. renewables

According to this report, renewable energy output is almost equal to nuclear energy output in the U.S. of A.

“Members of the incoming Congress are proposing to slash cost-effective funding for rapidly expanding renewable energy technologies while foolishly plowing ever-more federal dollars into the nuclear power black hole,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.

My question is still with scale. Bringing a new nuke plant online can provide enough energy for a significant portion of a moderate-size urban area. How many acres of fields, miles of solar panels in the desert, hundreds of windmills, or new waterfalls (hard to come by these days) are the equivalent of that? Now, I admit that biofuels is probably a growth industry, because I think that the internal combustion engine will still be the dominant vehicular transportation power source for decades to come. The capacity of burnable liquid fuels in a regular-sized vehicle compared to batteries still tilts heavily in the favor of the liquid fuels. But I think you're going to need power input at some stage in the biofuel processing stream (the first and second laws of thermodynamics and all that), so nuclear has a part to play in that as well as a home and industrial power source.

Here's some more on this:

Renewables Share of Energy Rises, Almost Catching up with Nuclear Power

Malaysian take (from a reader, not a professional, I don't think):
The case against nuclear energy

This is an issue for the 21st Century's teen years, obviously.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Social News

Valerie Bertinelli gets married again

'We're so happy!': Valerie Bertinelli marries long-term partner in intimate ceremony

Amanda Holden at six months (surprise!)
Surprise! Amanda Holden, 39, reveals she's six months pregnant with baby No.2

Beckham back to Britain? (OK, this is sports news, but he's such an A-Lister and Posh is such a pure celeb, this counts as social news, too)
David Beckham might play for Tottenham Hotspurs in Premier League

Wait a minute - Hough/Cole still counting as an item

According to the Daily Mail, which knows about these things, Cheryl and Derek had a pretty good New Year's Eve celebration together:

Dancing for joy: Cheryl Cole and Derek Hough let their hair down at £1m party

Some noteworthy events:

Hough has also reportedly bought the 27-year-old X Factor judge a £10,000 diamond bracelet as a love token.
(roughly 20-25K USD)

and of course:

It was there, in front of the assembled revellers, that the couple sealed their love with a passionate kiss after toasting each other with champagne as the midnight chimes rang out.

Well, I say, it's about time. Now, one could still claim they're just friends, staying at an exclusive resort in South Africa and dancing and kissing at a New Year's Eve party, but that would be a stretch. As I think Cheryl's definition of "single" is.

Catch the North Magnetic Pole, if you can

According to this report, the North Magnetic Pole is moving a somewhat astonishing 55 km a year!

That makes using a compass in the traditional Boy Scout fashion somewhat challenging.

Why is the North Magnetic Pole racing toward Siberia?

According to some recent models, plumes of less dense fluid form at the inner core boundary and subsequently rise within [a cylinder] whose central axis is the Earth’s rotation axis. Such plumes undergo a strong helical motion due to the Earth’s rapid rotation, a phenomenon also observed in laboratory experiments with water. In the core, helical plumes advect and twist the magnetic field lines, forming what scientists call "polar magnetic upwellings."
For more, you'll have to track down the references in the linked article.

Ballet star on the rise: Natalia Osipova

I've always known ballet stars are athletic, but when an aspiring gymnast ends up a ballerina, the results are pretty spectacular. Natalia Osipova makes me tempted to shell out some big bucks to see her live in performance someday soon.

A Determined Ballerina, Propelled to the Top

Osipova in one of her signature roles, Kitri in "Don Quixote"

Now THAT's extension.