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Science Could Save Leonardo da Vinci's Vanishing Portrait

A drawn portrait attributed to Leonardo da Vinci has been fading, and researchers hope to determine the best way to save it.LiveScience

A new technique could help save a famous Leonardo da Vinci drawing that is vanishing with each passing day.

The mysterious artwork, widely considered to be a self-portrait of the artist, was drawn with red chalk on paper in the early 1500s and has since been fading.

The new analysis could be used to help preservationists assess the damage to the painting and, in turn, help them decide which restoration techniques are most appropriate.

The drawing has fueled speculation for centuries. The depiction of an old man with flowing white locks and a long beard was probably created in Turin, Italy, sometime between 1510 and 1515. While many think the painting depicts Leonardo, he was only in his mid-50s at the time of the drawing, whereas the portrait's subject looks older. That has led many to wonder whether the drawing depicts Leonardo's uncle or father.

Rare Crusader-Period Lead Seal Found in Jerusalem

Israeli archaeologists say they have discovered an 800-year-old lead seal of the Mar Saba Monastery at the archaeological site of Horbat Mizmil, Jerusalem.
This image shows a seal of the Mar Saba Monastery found in Jerusalem. Image credit: Clara Amit / Israel Antiquities

Mar Saba (439–532), or Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, was one of the most important and influential leaders of the Christian monastic movement in the Judean desert during the Byzantine period. He was the founder of several monasteries, most notably the one known as the Mar Saba Monastery.

The monastery, situated on a cliff overlooking Nahal Kidron, was home to several hundred monks. This is the only monastery in the Judean desert continuously inhabited since its foundation, and even today there are about ten Greek monks who reside in the monastery belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Saint Sabbas was greatly involved in local Byzantine era political and religious affairs and twice he traveled on foot to the capital Constantinople in order to request assistance from the emperor for the country’s inhabitants. He was canonized following his death and his name appears among the list of Christian saints.

Technology News

Google Will Deploy $1 Billion Worth Of Satellites To Spread Internet Access

Silicon Valley's latest frontier is the edge of space itself.
O3b Satellites mounted to launch dispenser Google recently hired O3b Networks Ltd's founder and chief technology officer. This is the kind of satellite they make. O3b Networks LtdBy Kelsey D. Atherton

The tubes that make up the internet cover much of the world, but not all of it. Google has announced plans to get internet to where the tubes can't reach, with three technologies: balloons, high-altitude solar-powered drones, and the latest, satellites in space.

Google would not be the first to use satellites to cover the earth in internet. The early dotcom boom of the late 1990s saw companies like Iridium, Globalstar, and Teledisc market satellite phones and promise internet service, but most failed or declared bankruptcy in the face of tremendous initial costs and poor management. In 2010, the Pentagon tested routing internet through a satellite. Google's own satellite team will be headed by eminent alumni of satellite internet company O3b.

It is too soon to say whether Google's balloons, drones, or satellites will successfully expand internet access to the parts of the world without it. Whichever works, it is clear that Google is willing to go to the edge of space and beyond to spread the internet beyond the terrestrial tyranny of tubes.

App paired with sensor measures stress, delivers advice to cope in real time

ParentGuardian combines an app and a sensor, as well as powerful computing, to detect stress and deliver research-based strategies to help decrease that stress.University of California - San Diego

Computer scientists at Microsoft Research and the University of California, San Diego have developed a system that combines a mobile application and sensor to detect stress in parents and delivers research-based strategies to help decrease that stress during emotionally charged interactions with their children. The system was initially tested on a small group of parents of children with ADHD.

The system, called ParentGuardian, is the first to detect stress and present interventions in real-time -- at the right time and in the right place. It combines a sensor worn on the wrist with a smart phone and tablet, as well as a server that analyses the data from the sensor.

Laura Pina, a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of California, San Diego and former intern at Microsoft Research, presented her work at the 8th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare May 20 to 23 2013 in Germany.

Environmental News

Americans Who Mistrust Climate Scientists Take Cues from Global Temperatures

Too hot to handleBy Annie Sneed

The White House obviously accepts the science behind human-caused climate change, as was made clear again this week by its announcement of plans to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030. Some Americans remain skeptical—but they’re in the minority. As The New York Times reports, most Americans think global warming is a fact.

Strangely enough, not everyone who accepts the data on anthropogenic global warming trusts climate scientists. According to the Stanford National Global Warming Poll, about a third of Americans are skeptical of climate scientists and instead base their opinions on climate change—at least in part—on global temperatures, according to a recent time series analysis of the Stanford poll.

The poll found that Americans who trust climate scientists tend to keep their global warming views, while the one-third of Americans suspicious of climate scientists seems to be swayed by the previous year’s average world temperature record. When the media declares that last year was the Earth’s hottest or coldest (or second hottest or coldest and so on) on record, apparently this news influences whether or not that latter group accepts that global warming is real.

Humans, not climate, to blame for Ice Age-era disappearance of large mammals, study concludes

Skeleton of a giant ground sloth at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, circa 1920.Aarhus University

Was it humankind or climate change that caused the extinction of a considerable number of large mammals about the time of the last Ice Age? Researchers at Aarhus University have carried out the first global analysis of the extinction of the large animals, and the conclusion is clear -- humans are to blame. A new study unequivocally points to humans as the cause of the mass extinction of large animals all over the world during the course of the last 100,000 years.

"Our results strongly underline the fact that human expansion throughout the world has meant an enormous loss of large animals," says Postdoctoral Fellow Søren Faurby, Aarhus University.

Was it due to climate change?

For almost 50 years, scientists have been discussing what led to the mass extinction of large animals (also known as megafauna) during and immediately after the last Ice Age.

One of two leading theories states that the large animals became extinct as a result of climate change. There were significant climate changes, especially towards the end of the last Ice Age -- just as there had been during previous Ice Ages -- and this meant that many species no longer had the potential to find suitable habitats and they died out as a result. However, because the last Ice Age was just one in a long series of Ice Ages, it is puzzling that a corresponding extinction of large animals did not take place during the earlier ones.

Medical News

Saudi study strengthens case against camels in MERS outbreak

A man wearing a mask looks on as he stands in front of camels at a camel market in the village of al-Thamama near Riyadh May 11, 2014.By Kate Kelland

(Reuters) - A Saudi man who became infected with and died of the new Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus contracted the disease from a camel in his own herd which was also sick, scientists said on Wednesday.

In a study which reinforces the case against camels as the prime suspects for transmitting the deadly virus from the animal world into people, researchers said that in this case it was highly likely the animal's nasal secretions were to blame.

MERS, also known as MERS-CoV, has infected 691 people and killed at least 284 of them in Saudi Arabia alone since it first emerged in 2012.

Sporadic cases of the disease, which is caused by a virus from the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, have also been reported across the Middle East region, as well as in Europe, Asia and the United States.

'Milestone' Easy-To-Make Stem Cells Never Existed, Investigation Suggests

Maybe it’s not so easy to create stem cells after all.
Photo Of A Mouse Fetus From The STAP Stem Cells Work Haruko ObokataBy Francie Diep

The stem cells that scientists announced they’d created in January may never have existed, Nature News reports.

The stem cell discovery, at first hailed as a milestone, has come under fire over the past few months. First, independent research teams that tried to reproduce the stem cells weren’t able to. Then, some scientists noticed that parts of the paper describing the new stem-cell-creating technique were plagiarized.

RIKEN, a Tokyo-based research institution that employs many of the scientists who were involved in the questioned discovery, launched an investigation with two goals. One was to determine whether the stem cell paper’s lead author, a young RIKEN scientist named Haruko Obokata, had cheated in writing the paper. That branch of the investigation concluded in April and found she did cheat. The second goal was more interesting: to determine whether the stem cells the team said it made were real. Genetic test conducted by an anonymous, independent lab suggest they were not, Nature News reports.

Space News

Lake on Saturn’s Largest Moon May Have Waves

Waves on Titan indicate bodies of liquid methane may be home to life
Just how deep are the seas on Titan?By Clara Moskowitz

Saturn's moon Titan shares many of Earth's features, including clouds, rain and lakes. And now scientists know the two are similar in another way: they both have waves. Cameras on NASA's spacecraft Cassini recently saw what appear to be waves on one of Titan's largest methane lakes—a signal scientists have long searched for but never found.

“I was starting to despair that we were going to see them at all,” says Jason Barnes, a physicist at the University of Idaho who presented the evidence in March at the 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Tex. If confirmed, the discovery would mark the first time waves have been seen outside Earth.

Barnes and his team found patterns in the sunlight reflecting off a northern lake called Punga Mare that they interpret as two-centimeter-high waves. There is a different explanation, others caution: Punga Mare may be a mudflat instead of a deep lake, and a shallow film of liquid on top may be the cause of the unique light signature. “It's compelling, but it's not definitive,” says Jonathan Lunine, a planetary scientist at Cornell University who was not involved in the study.

Human space program review recommends U.S. focus on Mars

Humans on MarsBy Irene Klotz

(Reuters) - The United States should abandon its "flexible approach" to human missions beyond Earth, set Mars as its ultimate goal and open the door to China among other potential partners, a review of the human space flight program said on Wednesday.

The National Research Council report, commissioned by the U.S. space agency NASA, recommends a stepping stone approach toward Mars that builds technological know-how through a series of well-defined preliminary missions.

All options begin with the International Space Station, a $100 billion research complex flying 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, the 286-page report released in Washington D.C., said.

One path includes NASA's current plan to robotically capture an asteroid, redirect it into a high orbit around the moon and send astronauts there to explore. The report suggests that path continue with missions to the moons of Mars, then on to Martian orbit and finally to the surface of the planet.

Odd News

How Would Humans Know If They Lived in a Multiverse?

Our universe may be one of many, physicists say.By Tanya Lewis

Some theories in physics give rise to the idea of multiple universes, where nearly identical versions of the known universe exist. But if such a multiverse does exist, how would people know, and what would it mean for humanity?

There may be ways to find out if the known universe is one of many, said Brian Greene, a theoretical physicist and author at Columbia University in New York.

"There are certain versions of the multiverse that, should they be correct, might be most susceptible to confirmation," Greene told Live Science.

For example, in the multiverse suggested by string theory, a model that says the universe is composed of one-dimensional strings, the known universe might exist on a giant 3D membrane, Greene told Live Science.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If I live in a multiverse... (29+ / 0-)

    Do I have to file multiple tax returns each year?

    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" -- (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich Schiller)

    by rfall on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 06:06:50 PM PDT

  •  The Lovable Bigot (15+ / 0-)

    From the A.V. Club: All In The Family, Michael Sam, and the unfortunate persistence of Archie Bunker

    Early in its first season, All In The Family made television history by depicting the first gay sitcom character—in a clever bait and switch. The show’s standard format involves Archie being tested by different social stimuli and watching the other characters react to his inherent bigotry. Instead of father knowing best, Archie Bunker is the antagonist whose behavior the show endeavors to correct, and each installment serves as something of a profanity-laden Very Special Episode to that end. During the fifth episode, “Judging Books By Their Covers,” Meathead and Gloria invite over a friend from school, the effete and worldly Roger, who Archie presumes to be gay, thus providing the episode’s central conflict.

    Of course, Roger (probably) isn’t gay, as Meathead continually asserts, and so what if he were? Meathead argues, “Whatever two consenting adults do in private is their own business,” summing up the Sexual Offences Act, a 1967 law that decriminalized sodomy in the U.K. As goes for most episodes, Meathead is driven to prove his father-in-law wrong, and he gets a golden opportunity when he discovers that Archie’s friend Steve is actually gay. Steve, the prototype of the ideal man’s man, hangs out at the neighborhood bar with Archie and his friends. A former football player, the hyper-masculine Steve is the product of the “rougher” and “tougher” era that Archie idealizes, one whose morals he thinks are lost on the current generation. Roger provides the perfect vehicle for that imagined dichotomy.

    When Meathead provokes him with the reality of his assumptions, Archie descends into panic, realizing that the world as he knows it is slowly disappearing. Archie responds, “You’re sick. You need help. All his pinko stuff, well that’s all right. Clothes. Their wide-open sex any time of the night or day, for no reason at all? All right, that’s your submissive society.” In the next scene, Archie confronts Steve, only to watch his reality further erode when Steve clarifies that, yes, he is gay. In a commentary on the episode for Splitsider, A.J. Aronstein argues that this is “what All In The Family does best.” Aronstein writes, “There’s something weirdly pathetic, just before Steve comes out to Archie, about watching the bigot being shown how lonely his world can get.”

    This is a show that I really wonder whether it would work just as well if it was on TV now? Or would it drown in controversy? It's somewhat disheartening to think that TV was more daring at confronting controversial topics in the 1970s than in the 21st century.

    Based on the British sitcom 'Til Death Us Do Part, the series was known for Archie's use of language, which was usually laced with epithets against one group or another. Even President Nixon was caught on one of his tapes complaining about the episode embedded above.

    From The New Yorker: The Great Divide

    The weightiest criticism came in another Times essay, by Laura Z. Hobson, the elderly author of “Gentleman’s Agreement,” the source for Elia Kazan’s earnest Oscar-winning 1947 film about anti-Semitism. In September, 1971, she published a five-thousand-word critique called “As I Listened to Archie Say ‘Hebe’ . . .” Hobson argued that Lear had attempted to “deodorize” bigotry, to make it safe and cute: among other things, Archie used words like “coon” and “yid,” but he didn’t say “nigger” or “kike.” Rather than puncturing hatred, she argued, Lear had made Archie into a flattering mirror for bigots. “I don’t think you can be a black-baiter and lovable, or an anti-Semite and lovable,” she wrote. “And I don’t think the millions who watch this show should be conned into thinking you can be.”

    Lear responded with his own Times essay, “As I Read How Laura Saw Archie,” arguing that of course bigots could be lovable, as anyone with a family knew. If Archie Bunker didn’t use harsher language, it was because those words were “from another decade.” Besides, Michael and Gloria, the bleeding-heart liberals, always got the last word. Despite Lear’s playful response, later episodes of “All in the Family” contain many echoes of this debate. The show’s tone gradually softened, and the more caustic slang dropped out; Archie even stopped telling Edith to “stifle.” (As with “m*a*s*h,” its creators were influenced by the rise of feminism.) In Season 8, there’s a trenchant sequence in which Archie, drunk and trapped in a storage room with Michael, talks about his childhood. Yes, his father said “nigger” while he was growing up, Archie says—everybody did—and when Michael tells him what his father said was wrong, Archie delivers a touching, confused defense of the man who raised him, who held his hand, but who also beat him and shoved him in a closet. It was all out of love, Archie insists. “How could any man that loves you tell you anything that’s wrong?” he murmurs, just before he passes out. The scene should have been grotesquely manipulative and mawkish, but, strengthened by O’Connor’s affecting performance, it makes Lear’s point more strongly than any op-ed, even decades later: bigotry is resilient, because rejecting it often means rejecting your own family.

  •  Remembrance. (19+ / 0-)
    Anne Frank photo 970492_10151652498974648_1408508580_n_zps725f6902.jpg

    Anne Frank would have celebrated her 84th birthday today.


    Imagine a world in which this heroine could have done so.


    70 years ago this morning, the D-Day invasion began.  President Roosevelt prayed that morning that these men “would liberate a suffering humanity.”  

    That morning, 9,387 Americans died on beaches in France.  Nineteen of these young men were from the small town of Bedford, Virginia, which lost more townsmen, per capita, than any other place in the United States.

    All of the telegrams arrived on July 17, 1944.


    IGTNT As Dawn Breaks in France, 9,387 6-6-44



    May we never forget.

    And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

    by noweasels on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:06:21 PM PDT

  •  Quantum Immortality (14+ / 0-)

    There is an idea for how one could test for a multiverse, but confirmation would only occur in some of the universes.

    One of the more interesting thought experiments connected to the Many-Worlds Interpretation is the idea of Quantum Immortality, which wonders what the experience would be from the perspective of Schrödinger's cat, instead of the observer.

    Imagine it this way, a person stands next to a nuclear bomb which is set to explode. It's probably 99.999999999% certain that he will be vaporized, but it isn't a total certainty. If Many-Worlds is correct, in that 0.000000001% or less of a chance, there should exist a tiny set of universes where the person survives, either by the bomb not going off or an even tinier subset where the person somehow survives the blast (although, probably horribly maimed).

    As long as someone doesn't experience an event where the probability of surviving was exactly "0", no matter how unlikely it may be, there should always exist a universe where some iteration should somehow survive.

    In this experiment, a physicist sits in front of a gun which is triggered or not triggered depending on the decay of some radioactive atom. With each run of the experiment there is a 50-50 chance that the gun will be triggered and the physicist will die. If the Copenhagen interpretation is correct, then the gun will eventually be triggered and the physicist will die. If the many-worlds interpretation is correct then at each run of the experiment the physicist will be split into one world in which he lives and another world in which he dies. After many runs of the experiment, there will be many worlds. In the worlds where the physicist dies, he will cease to exist. However, from the point of view of the non-dead copies of the physicist, the experiment will continue running without his ceasing to exist, because at each branch, he will only be able to observe the result in the world in which he survives, and if many-worlds is correct, the surviving copies of the physicist will notice that he never seems to die.
  •  rfall (18+ / 0-)

    What a good OND tonight & an excellent set of comments.
    Thank you.



    I`m already against the next war.

    by Knucklehead on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:28:26 PM PDT

  •  "Game of Thrones" most watched HBO show. Ever. (11+ / 0-)

    HBO has crowned a new ratings king. Fantasy hit Game of Thrones has officially surpassed mob drama The Sopranos to become the most-watched show in the premium cable network's history, HBO confirmed for the first time Thursday.

    With two episodes remaining in the fourth season, Thrones has an average gross audience of 18.4 million viewers across all platforms. That surpasses the previous record set by the 2002 peak season of The Sopranos, which had an average gross audience of 18.2 million viewers per episode. Last season of Thrones had an average gross audience of 14.4 million viewers per episode. The news comes as Thrones has set several recent ratings records for its own performance this season.

    - Entertainment Weekly

  •  This multiverse thing is a mind stretcher. (8+ / 0-)

    If at every moment of choice, or option creates another universe where the other choice is made that would be an infinite number of multiverses and every one of the mulitiverses would be spinning off an infinite number of multiverses.

    This is too many universes.  Remember these are very large

    So I strongly recommend that no one try this experiment.

    Then when all the physicists who do the experiment kill themselves those of us who are still alive can outvote them and claim that, truth be known, they never really existed in the first place.

    This will at least place some limit on the number of total universes, which seems better to me.  

    It also seems to me that if we do all agree to some "Law of Conservation of Universes," we are going to have to redefine mathematics so multiplication and division by zero are defined.

    If we take one the infinite lines of branch off multiverses. And, then allowed each of them to have an infinite number of multiverses we are going to need to have infinity squared to properly count them.  

    But, then if we imagine that in half of these multiverses the physicists are not smart enough to figure out that they shouldn't do this experiment, so they die and all subsequent lines of branch off universes where they do anything else are never created then we could subtract those universes by dividing infinity by 2, and then only raising it to the power of infinity divided by two.

    So you see Doctor RJ, you've already reduced the total number of infinite multiverses by half just with your thought experiment.

    So we should think of more of these multiverse reducing thought experiments to keep the total number down to a manageable level we can think about without becoming overwhelmed.

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:41:57 PM PDT

  •  Could we get it down (8+ / 0-)

    to 42? That's the most I can think about at once.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:46:18 PM PDT

  •  Image scrubbed yesterday from Chinese internet: (8+ / 0-)


    I ♥ President Barack Obama.

    by ericlewis0 on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:50:51 PM PDT

  •  Rfall, I'd better say thanks for the great post (7+ / 0-)

    before RJ creates so many extra multiverses I never make it to the bottom of this post, but get side tracked for ever in never ending branches of multiverses and then starve to death, because I never make down to the kitchen for my midnight snack.

    Good night. And if you see any multiple versions of me hanging around creating excess branch off multiverses please tell me to go to bed, and keep things simple.

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:55:03 PM PDT

  •  Thanks rfall. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    basquebob, palantir, FarWestGirl

    Excellent OND.

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 10:52:38 PM PDT

  •  beyond the terrestrial tyranny of tubes. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    It is too soon to say whether Google's balloons, drones, or satellites will successfully expand internet access to the parts of the world without it. Whichever works, it is clear that Google is willing to go to the edge of space and beyond to spread the internet beyond the terrestrial tyranny of tubes.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri Jun 06, 2014 at 12:33:58 AM PDT

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