XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Health magazine picks ‘drunkest’ city in the U.S - Fresno, Calif, has beaten out booze-friendly Las Vegas and New York City -

Health magazine picks ‘drunkest’ city in the U.S - Fresno, Calif, has beaten out booze-friendly Las Vegas and New York City - 




Fresno, Calif., has topped Men’s Health magazine’s list of drunkest U.S. cities, beating out booze-friendly Las Vegas and New York City.
The magazine, which will publish its list of 100 cities in its March edition that range from “drunkest” to “least drunk,” based the results on data collected from the FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, theInsurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Researchers looked at DUI-related crashes and arrests, death rates from alcoholic liver disease statistics, and frequency of binge drinking in the last month.
Fresno received a failing grade from the magazine for a high number of liver-disease deaths, DUI-related crashes, and binge drinking.
Reno, Nev., came second, followed by Billings, Montana, Riverside, Calif., and Austin.
Las Vegas came 11th, while the Big Apple, which is home to an estimated 33,000 bars and restaurants, according to real estate siteHomeInsight.com, came in at No. 93.
Boston, famous for its Cheers bar, is the “least drunk” city, according to the magazine’s findings.
Fresno is California’s fifth largest city and is situated about 320 kilometres north of Los Angeles. Fresno’s current population is about 500,000, with a median age of 29, according to data from the California Department of Finance, Demographic Research Unit.
The city has approximately 1,824 bars and restaurants within 24 kilometres, HomeInsight.com reported.

The largest digital colour picture ever of the night sky goes online - built from more than a trillion pixels -

The largest digital colour picture ever of the night sky goes online - built from more than a trillion pixels - 


The data used to create this photograph captures “the name of every galaxy in the observed universe, its position in the sky, its colour, its shape. In all, 144 pieces of information for every single one of the 500 million galaxies.”

The largest digital colour picture ever made of the night sky is built from more than a trillion pixels.
It would take 500,000 high-definition TVs to see the image at full resolution.
And that, Dr. Bob Nichol of the University of Portsmouth told the Star on Tuesday, is only a fraction of what’s really out there.
Beyond the half-billion galaxies – captured on the free downloadable images released by theSloan Digital Sky Survey III – are what he can only call “a lot more” – the other 90 per cent of the still-unobserved universe.
Still, the swirling blues and greens, the ominous red elliptical swarms, and the glittering gases against a tweedy-looking backdrop of sky are capturing “a tremendous surge of interest,” Nichol said with delight.
While the pictures fire the imagination, the accompanying comprehensive data on what might be the world’s largest spread sheet is intriguing professional and amateur astronomers.
That data captures “the name of every galaxy in the observed universe, its position in the sky, its colour, its shape. In all, 144 pieces of information for every single one of the 500 million galaxies.”
Scientists have seized on the numbers for two reasons: to find the odd, unexplained, undiscovered parts of the cosmos; and to find the patterns.
“Imagine if you have half a billion objects – one or two of them can be quite strange,” said Nichol, a cosmologist and spokesman for SDSS III. “That’s how quasars were detected in the 1970s.”
Among the patterns is the “rather simplified” knowledge that all galaxies are of two types: our own blue spiral Milky Way full of young stars, and red elliptical galaxies studded with old stars.
“Why are there two types? Astronomers are tacking that one still. I use the analogy: Why are there only men and women?”
While the SDSS III terapixel achievement creates a core of data that can be used for decades for research, Nichol expects it may be transcended in 10 years by a video of the known universe, rather than just a still picture.
That, he said, would mean Earthlings could watch “asteroids move and super novas go off. Technology isn’t there yet, but it will be.”
How reliable is one still picture of things light years away?
“The good news is that most objects don’t change in time. Galaxies are quite boring and tend to stay the same for a couple of billion years. Stars change, galaxies don’t.”
The image was started in 1998 using what was then the world’s largest digital camera, at 138-megapixels, attached to a 2.5-metre telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico.
The camera is being retired to the Smithsonian as part of its astronomy collection.

NYC Public Schools reported 1,700 confirmed bedbug cases in first five months of school year -

NYC Public Schools reported 1,700 confirmed bedbug cases in first five months of school year - 






Bedbugs are plaguing New York City public schools like never before, according to the latest stats from the Department of Education. 
City schools reported 1,700 confirmed bedbug cases in just the first five months of the school year --  a rate that's on pace to triple last year’s total of 1,019 cases
The parasitic pests have thrived in the winter season, it appears, with 80 percent of cases having been reported during November, December and January. 
"It's just an outbreak and I don't know how they can stop it," saidWendy Tatum, a mother at PS 54 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of hundreds of schools to have had at least one confirmed case. 

The Dept. of Ed is required to record any incidents where an infestation is found, but spokesperson Marge Feinberg said this uptick in cases is fueled not by infestations but by individual students who come to school with bedbugs.

"It is important to know that schools are not hospitable places for bedbugs," Feinberg said. “They are brought into schools from the clothing.”
Last year, city officials acknowledged the bedbug resurgence reached "an unprecedented rate of spread" and pledged to combat the crisis with $500,000 to raise public awareness.


In schools, that meant a new four-step protocol for dealing with cases and increased communication between schools and parents. But those efforts have been futile because so many homes are already infested.
And while private homes continue to be the source of most infestations, bedbugs hitchhike on the clothes and bags of their hosts to spead elsewhere, experts say.

“Bedbugs need to be where people are,” said Missy Henrickson, of the National Pest Management Association. “So when you have homes infested with bedbugs, (students) who live there are carrying the bedbugs on them and bringing them into schools.”

With 1.1 million students and 100,000 teachers, New York’s schools serve as a major transportation hub for bedbugs and present an enormous challenge for pest control professionals trying reduce the citywide spread.

In winter months, when students come to school with more personal belongings, like gloves, hats and coats, the problem is even worse.
“Schools are a major transfer point from one place to another,” saidElio Chiavola, owner of Metro Bed Bug Dogs, a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in treating private residences for bed bugs. “It’s been a huge problem for schools.”  
A more nuanced explanation for the surge might be that people are more aware of the epidemic and better equipped to look for and identify the crumb-sized insects.
Feinberg declined to name specific schools. A bedbug advisory report last year noted that bedbugs were found in 243 schools in 541 cases from the 2008-2009 school year, suggesting that that number could be much higher for this year's total.

VP Biden announces $53 billion high-speed rail plan - goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail -

VP Biden announces $53 billion high-speed rail plan - goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail - 






The Obama administration is proposing to spend $53 billion over the next six years to help promote the construction of a national high-speed, intercity passenger rail network, Vice President Joe Biden announced Tuesday.
The proposal represents a significant expansion of the $10.5 billion already spent on high-speed rail expansion since Obama entered office, including $8 billion in the 2009 economic stimulus package.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters potential funding sources for the plan will be outlined in the president's proposed budget, which is scheduled to be released next week.
President Barack Obama said in last month's State of the Union address that he was setting a goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.
The proposed new investment -- including $8 billion in the upcoming fiscal year -- would accompany a streamlined application process for cities, states, and private companies seeking federal grants and loans to develop railway capacity.
"There are key places where we cannot afford to sacrifice as a nation -- one of which is infrastructure," Biden said in a written statement. There is a pressing need "to invest in a modern rail system that will help connect communities, reduce congestion and create quality, skilled manufacturing jobs that cannot be outsourced."
Biden, who commuted regularly by train between Washington and his home state of Delaware during a 36-year Senate tenure, has been a prominent advocate for railway travel and, more specifically, Amtrak.
A new high-speed rail investment, however, may face a cool reception in the new, more Republican Congress. GOP leaders have called for more spending cuts in the wake of spiraling federal deficits. Obama has also called for more fiscal responsibility, proposing in his State of the Union address a five-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending.

Valentine's Night Comet Encounter - Stardust-NExT mission's close encounter with comet Tempel 1 - 8:37 pm PST Feb. 14 -

Valentine's Night Comet Encounter - Stardust-NExT mission's close encounter with comet Tempel 1 -  8:37 pm PST Feb. 14 -


NASA will host several live media activities for the Stardust-NExT mission's close encounter with comet Tempel 1. The closest approach is expected at approximately 8:37 p.m. PST, with confirmation received on Earth at about 8:56 p.m. PST on Monday, Feb. 14. 

Live coverage of the Tempel 1 encounter will begin at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 14 on NASA Television and the agency's website. The coverage will include live commentary from mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., and video from Lockheed Martin Space System's mission support area in Denver. 

A news briefing is planned for 10 a.m. on Feb. 15. Scheduled participants are: 
-Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate 
-Joe Veverka, Stardust-NExT principal investigator, Cornell University 
-Tim Larson, Stardust-NExT project manager, JPL 
-Don Brownlee, Stardust-NExT co-investigator, University of Washington, Seattle 

To cover the Tempel 1 flyby at JPL, journalists must contact the JPL Media Relations Office at 818-354-5011. Valid media credentials are required. Non-U.S. citizens must bring passports. 

Starting Feb. 14 at 8 p.m., news media representatives can watch live coverage of the control room via a feed to JPL's von Karman Auditorium. The auditorium will remain open through the evening for media. Reporters who will not travel to JPL may call the Media Relations Office to make arrangements to ask questions during the Feb. 15 briefing. 

Mission coverage schedule (all times PST and subject to change): 

8:30 to 10 p.m., Feb. 14: Live NASA TV commentary begins from mission control; includes coverage of closest approach and the re-establishment of contact with the spacecraft following the encounter. 

Midnight to 1:30 a.m., Feb. 15: NASA TV commentary will chronicle the arrival and processing of the first five of 72 close-approach images expected to be down linked after the encounter. The images are expected to include a close-up view of the comet's surface. 

10 a.m., Feb. 15: News briefing 

Starting on Feb. 9, NASA TV will air Stardust-NExT mission animation and b-roll during its Video File segments. For NASA TV streaming video, scheduling and downlink information, visit: 


China's poor treated to fake rice made from plastic - "rice" is made by mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic -

China's poor treated to fake rice made from plastic - "rice" is made by mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic - 




China's history with food safety is a rocky one, but even in the annals of robbery and abuse, this will go down in infamy.
Various reports in Singapore media have said that Chinese companies are mass producing fake rice made, in part, out of plastic, according to one online publication Very Vietnam.
The "rice" is made by mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic. The potatoes are first formed into the shape of rice grains. Industrial synthetic resins are then added to the mix. The rice reportedly stays hard even after being cooked.
The Korean-language Weekly Hong Kong reported that the fake rice is being sold in the Chinese town of Taiyuan, in Shaanxi province.
"A Chinese Restaurant Association official said that eating three bowls of this fake rice would be like eating one plastic bag. Due to the seriousness of the matter, he added that there would be an investigation of factories alleged to be producing the rice," Very Vietnam noted.
Unfortunately, it's not the first time fake rice has been sold in China,according to China's Global Times.
Previously, a company in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province had added flavoring to ordinary rice to synthesize "Wuchang rice," which is regarded to be the best rice in the country.
About 300,000 people were injured and at least six infants died in 2008 when Chinese milk and infant formula was found to be adulterated with melamine, which was thought to help the milk pass nutrition tests.
Later that year, melamine was also discovered in Chinese eggs.