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August 31, 2007

Merdeka Day

It's hard not to love a country that has a big party every year on your birthday. And this year, they're holding the biggest one to date, as Malaysia celebrates 50 years of independence. To all my Malaysian friends:



August 17, 2007

As if We Needed More Reasons

Just add this one to the list:

Want Yet Another Reason to Have Sex?

A study shows that men who have three or more orgasms a week are 50 percent less likely to die from coronary heart disease.

These findings suggest that sex can be used to help prevent heart attacks and strokes as one means of fulfilling physicians' recommendation for sustained physical activity for at least 20 minutes, three times a week. Conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Bristol and Queen's University of Belfast, the researchers studied 2,500 men aged 45 to 59 for 10 years.

"The relationship found between frequency of sexual intercourse and mortality is of considerable public interest," says study co-author Shah Ebrahim, Ph.D., a University of Bristol professor of epidemiology and aging, who presented the study results at the fourth World Stroke Congress. "It may however be a confounding [relationship] due to other aspects of a healthy lifestyle." Ebrahim cautions that further research is necessary.

Right. More research is needed! Let's not just assume that men who have orgasms three times a week are in better physical condition than men who don't, and that being in shape is what really makes the difference here. That would be jumping to conclusions...

Look, the study says that having sex prevents heart attacks and that's that. Thank you.

Where Little Solar Systems Come From

Great story on Slashdot:

NASA astronomers held a press conference announcing that a new ultraviolet mosaic from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer shows a speeding star named Mira that's leaving an enormous trail of "seeds" for new solar systems. Mira is traveling faster than a speeding bullet, and has a tail that's 13 light-years long and over 30,000 years old. The website has images and a replay of the teleconference.

Here's an artist's conception of Mira doing her stuff:


It's a real shooting star. It's a super-comet! How wonderful that our universe still has so many amazing new things to show us.

August 15, 2007

Browsing Simplified

How much easier would life be if you never had to type http://www or .com again?

August 14, 2007

Space Hotel

For popular destinations, booking early is always a good idea:

"Galactic Suite," the first hotel planned in space, expects to open for business in 2012 and would allow guests to travel around the world in 80 minutes.

Its Barcelona-based architects say the space hotel will be the most expensive in the galaxy, costing $4 million for a three-day stay.

During that time guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day and use Velcro suits to crawl around their pod rooms by sticking themselves to the walls like Spiderman.

Company director Xavier Claramunt says the three-bedroom boutique hotel's joined up pod structure, which makes it look like a model of molecules, was dictated by the fact that each pod room had to fit inside a rocket to be taken into space.

"It's the bathrooms in zero gravity that are the biggest challenge," says Claramunt. "How to accommodate the more intimate activities of the guests is not easy."

But they may have solved the issue of how to take a shower in weightlessness -- the guests will enter a spa room in which bubbles of water will float around.

One tiny quibble: we don't really know that this is the most expensive hotel in the galaxy. Assuming there are are others out there, I'm not even sure how we would do the currency exchange. But otherwise, this is very cool news.

And speaking of those "more intimate activities of the guests," how long after this place opens until we hear about the first baby conceived in space?

Via Geekpress.

August 02, 2007

Deep Brain Stimulation

Amazing news:

Brain-Injured Man Speaks After 6 Years

A brain-damaged man who could communicate only with slight eye or thumb movements for six years can speak again, after stimulating electrodes were placed in his brain, researchers report.

The 38-year-old also regained the ability to chew and swallow, which allows him to be spoon-fed, rather than relying on nourishment through a tube in his belly.

The man's brain was injured during an assault, he spent six years with only occasional signs of consciousness and no useful movement of his limbs. In an experiment, researchers implanted electrodes in his brain for a procedure called deep brain stimulation, which is routinely done for Parkinson's disease and some other illnesses.

The article goes on to explain that the man was in a minimally conscious state, as distinct from a permanent vegetative state (who show no signs of awareness of their surroundings whatever.) This method of treatment has proved ineffective for those in a persistent vegetative state, but may offer hope to many of the more than the estimated 100,000 patients currently in a minimally conscious state.

August 01, 2007

Soccer-Playing Robots

The coolest part about this is that they're doing it all themselves:

Kind of reminds me of this:


Maybe we'll see real robot boxing matches before too long. Could robot players be the new frontier in spectator sports? It would certainly do away with any controversy about enhancement drugs...