Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Inside the Active Volcano On Montserrat

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday December 23, @01:27AM

from the magma-sponge dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes"An international team of researchers has begun collecting imaging data on the Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat, which has been erupting regularly since 1995. They're using the equivalent of a CAT scan to understand its internal structure and how and when it erupts. The experiment is dubbed SEA-CALIPSO and 'will use air guns and a string of sensors off the back of a research ship combined with sensors on land to try to image the magma chamber.' Early results are surprising. Quoting one of the leading scientists: 'The interesting thing is that much more magma is erupting than appears represented by the subsiding bowl. ... The magma volume in Montserrat eruptions is much larger than anyone would estimate from the surface deformation, because of the elastic storage of magma in what is effectively a huge magma sponge.'"

Not All Cores Are Created Equal

Posted by kdawson on Monday December 22, @08:56PM

from the working-out-the-kinks dept.
joabj writes"Virginia Tech researchers have found that the performance of programs running on multicore processors can vary from server to server, and even from core to core. Factors such as which core handles interrupts, or which cache holds the needed data can change from run to run. Such resources tend to be allocated arbitrarily now. As a result, program execution times can vary up to 10 percent. The good news is that the VT researchers are working on a library that will recognize inefficient behavior and rearrange things in a more timely fashion."Here is the paper, Asymmetric Interactions in Symmetric Multicore Systems: Analysis, Enhancements and Evaluation (PDF).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Medication For Depression Can Also Fight Cancer Drug Resistance

ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008) — Prozac is regularly prescribed to ease the emotional pain of patients who are being treated for cancer. But can this common anti-depressant help to fight cancer itself?

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The Slow Bruteforce Botnet(s) May Be Learning

Posted by kdawson on Sunday December 21, @10:30PM

from the knock-who's-there-knock dept.
badger.foo writes"We've seen stories about the slow bruteforcers — we've discussed it here — and based on the data, my colleague Egil Möller was the first to suggest that since we know the attempts are coordinated, it is not too far-fetched to assume that the controlling system measures the rates of success for each of the chosen targets and allocates resources accordingly. (The probes of my systems have slowed in the last month.) If Egil's assumption is right, we are seeing the bad guys adapting. And they're avoiding OpenBSD machines."For fans of raw data, here are all the log entries (3MB) that badger.foo has collected since noticing the slow bruteforce attacks.

Abu Dhabi Competes with Tower of Pisa, Star Wars

In case you thought that Versace's refrigerated beach was the apex of gauche and unrepentant luxury, let me remind you about the other Disney Land qualities Abu Dhabi is developing. 

Enter the Death Star an office and residential building planned for Abu Dhabi's planned island, Waterfront City. You remember that, right? The island that Abu Dhabi is building by dumping sand into the ocean and will eventually protect an already existing place, Palm Island? Yes, well, this will be the centerpiece for that city. Can you say 'Darth Vader'? How about 'Superpower'?

If that doesn't make you think of world domination, consider the new Leaning Tower of Pisa. It's no longer in Italy, but rather in Abu Dhabi. The Capital Gate will be complete by the end of 2009. It will lean 18 degrees to the west, that's four times more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The building is dug 30 meters into the earth for stability. A luxury hotel and office suites will reside within the 35-story building. 

My question is when will France send a statue and Egypt a pyramid?

The Earth in a Pot of Slowly Heating Water

In this week's issue of the New Yorker there's a cartoon titled, "The All-Crisis Network." 6 am - 9 am is The World in Crisis; 9 am - 11 am America in Crisis; 5 pm - 6 pm The Environment in Crisis; 6 pm - 7 pm Religion in Crisis...

I'm beginning to feel like readers of this blog may be purveyors of doom. If so, I've got more bad news for you. Yippee!

Scientists are about to hang out at the American Geophysical Unionand they'll be talking about methane hydrates. These are icelike deposits of methane gas buried under permafrost under the sea floor. As the oceans warm, that permafrost melts. Scientists worry--and scientists aren't given to needless worrying, I'm told-- that these deposits could melt soon and release a massive cloud of methane gas. 

That would heat the Earth with a jolt. As the first methane hydrates released their gases, eerily bubbling up through the ocean's surface, the atmosphere would begin to heat up, further heating the ocean and in turn melting more frozen methane hydrates. 

Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and scientists believe it played a role in the sudden climate shifts in the Earth's history. This scenario prompts me to think of a rather smelly pot of boiling water and in it the Earth quietly spins going from green and blue, to brown, to black. 

[via Salon.com]

Christmas in Yellowstone

The PBS film, Christmas in Yellowstone, explores wintertime in the the 2.2 million acres of unspoiled wilderness of the Great American West. Narrated by Linda Hunt and directed by Shane Moore, this film features Yellowstone's inhabitants including foxes, wolves, elk, buffalo and a grizzly bear hibernating in her den.This is a beautiful piece and a must-see for nature lovers. Check your local listing for air times or order a copy.

The short clip below shows a fox hunting for rodents that he can hear but not see below the snow. The accompanying music is perfectly timed to his leaps and dives.

Octopuses Have No Personalities and Enjoy HDTV

Posted by kdawson on Sunday December 21, @06:08PM

from the or-was-that-redundant dept.
Whiteox writes about an Australian researcher named Renata Pronk, who has discovered that octopuses prefer HDTV. She recruited 32 gloomy octopuses from the waters of Chowder Bay. Previously, researchers have reported little success when showing video to octopuses. Miss Pronk's insight was that the octopus eye is so refined that it might see standard PAL video, at 25 fps, as a series of stills. She tried HDTV (50 fps) and her subjects reacted to the videos of a crab, another octopus, or a swinging bottle on the end of a string. A further discovery is that octopuses show no trait of individual personalities, even though they exhibit a high level of intelligence. It would certainly be possible to quibble about the definition of "personality" employed, and whether Miss Pronk had successfully measured it.