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After an Atomic Bomb Test: Rare and Unpublished LIFE Magazine Photos From 1955

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Loomis Dean—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Caption from the May 16, 1955, issue of LIFE. “Unburned, a lady mannequin with wig askew is wearing light-colored dress which absorbs less heat.”

LIFE has an amazing gallery of previously unreleased pictures taken at a Nevada A-Bomb test site in 1955. There is a cold beauty in these shots and an eerie atmosphere that make them emblematic of the Cold War era.

via After an Atomic Bomb Test: Rare and Unpublished LIFE Magazine Photos From 1955 – LIFE.

People Aren’t Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say

this can't end well

In light of this article (and many more political theories), one could easily correlate this to certain political ideologies that tend to favour education for the select (rich) few and leave the vast majority uneducated, thus easily manipulated, even by the worst dumbass in history.

The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people’s ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.

Read the rest of this fascinating article on People Aren’t Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say – Yahoo! News.

Why Canadians Should Participate in the SOPA/PIPA Protest

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Even if you’re not in Canada or in the US, this is a good read to understand the dangers of the SOPA/PIPA bills.

The bill grants the U.S. “in rem” jurisdiction over any website that does not have a domestic jurisdictional connection. For those sites, the U.S. grants jurisdiction over the property of the site and opens the door to court orders requiring Internet providers to block the site and Internet search engines to stop linking to it. 

Should a Canadian website owner wish to challenge the court order, U.S. law asserts itself in another way, since in order for an owner to file a challenge (described as a “counter notification”), the owner must first consent to the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts.

You can replace “Canadian” by any other country. In short, SOPA will instantly grant the US worldwide censorship powers, in a way that leaves much to be desired in terms of due process.

Seriously, this is important.

Michael Geist – Why Canadians Should Participate in the SOPA/PIPA Protest.

Shock as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas

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Something tells me this can’t end well. On the other hand, this may push for new methane-harvesting technologies.

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

via The Independent.

China Threatens Massive Venting of Super Greenhouse Gases in Attempt to Extort Billions

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So, basically, China is blackmailing the entire world with a massive release of toxic, ozone-destroying gas is the international community doesn’t pay. Nice.

Keep buying stuff made in China, peeps, it’s cheaper. Yeah, right.

In a shocking attempt to blackmail the international community, Xie Fei, revenue management director at the China Clean Development Mechanism Fund, threatened: “If there’s no trading of [HFC-23] credits, they’ll stop incinerating the gases” and vent them directly into the atmosphere. Speaking at the Carbon Forum Asia in Singapore last week, Xie Fei claimed he spoke for “almost all the big Chinese producers of HFCs who “can’t bear the cost” and maintain that “they’ll lose competitiveness”.

via China Threatens Massive Venting of Super Greenhouse Gases in Attempt to Extort Billions as UNFCCC Meeting Approaches – MarketWatch.

How modern wheat is making us fat and sick

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Very interesting read about the dangers of modern wheat, which doesn’t have much in common with the one our parents/grand-parents ate and why our generations are fatter and sick with auto-immune diseases such as Celiac or Crohn’s or even rheumatoid arthritis among other niceties.

Quick: Name a common food, consumed every day by most people, that:• Increases overall calorie consumption by 400 calories per day • Affects the human brain in much the same way as morphine • Has a greater impact on blood sugar levels than a candy bar • Is consumed at the rate of 133 pounds per person per year • Has been associated with increased Type 1 Diabetes • Increases both insulin resistance and leptin resistance, conditions that lead to obesity • Is the only common food with its own mortality rateIf you guessed sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, youre on the right track, but, no, thats not the correct answer.The true culprit: Triticum aestivum, or modern wheat.

via Triticum Fever, by Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly – Boing Boing.

Group of 147 tight-knit companies controls 40% of the world’s total wealth

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This is somewhat scary.

The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

Read the whole story on: the capitalist network that runs the world –  New Scientist.

Billion Tonne Comet May Have Missed Earth By A Few Hundred Kilometres in 1883 [updated]

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If the data is correct, we got very, very close (between 600 and 8000km) to a mass extinction event just over a hundred years ago.

On 12th and 13th August 1883, an astronomer at a small observatory in Zacatecas in Mexico made an extraordinary observation. José Bonilla counted some 450 objects, each surrounded by a kind of mist, passing across the face of the Sun.

Each fragment was at least as big as the one thought to have hit Tunguska. Manterola and co end with this: “So if they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.”

A sobering thought

via Billion Tonne Comet May Have Missed Earth By A Few Hundred Kilometres in 1883  – Technology Review.


Phil Plait, the badass astronomer behind the awesome Bad Astronomy blog has an insightful analysis here: Did a fragmenting comet nearly hit the Earth in 1883? Color me very skeptical

Mind you, Bonilla claimed to have seen these objects over the course of two days. That means they would’ve been stretched out along a path that was a million km long at least, yet so narrow that only one observatory on Earth saw them transit the Sun. That is highly unlikely.

Definitely worth reading and Phil Plait is doing a fantastic job to express something as complex as astronomy and physics in terms a math dropout like me can understand.

Uncovering the hidden lake buried two miles beneath Antarctica

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There are hundreds of subglacial lakes buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice, each one completely isolated from the rest of the world for hundreds of thousands of years. And now, scientists are preparing to find out just what’s down there.

via io9 Uncovering the hidden lake buried two miles beneath Antarctica.