Larry Sundown Lounge - Maproom Archives: Shows 226 - 240
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Map Room Archive: Shows 226 - 240

Sundown Lounge No. 240


Living Earth Simulator – Predicting the Future of Everything

It could be one of the most ambitious computer projects ever conceived. An international group of scientists are aiming to create a simulator that can replicate everything happening on Earth – from global weather patterns and the spread of diseases to international financial transactions or congestion on Milton Keynes’ roads.

Nicknamed the Living Earth Simulator (LES), the project aims to advance the scientific understanding of what is taking place on the planet, encapsulating the human actions that shape societies and the environmental forces that define the physical world.

“Many problems we have today – including social and economic instabilities, wars, disease spreading – are related to human behaviour, but there is apparently a serious lack of understanding regarding how society and the economy work,” says Dr Helbing, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, who chairs the FuturICT project which aims to create the simulator.

Knowledge collider

Thanks to projects such as the Large Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator built by Cern, scientists know more about the early universe than they do about our own planet, claims Dr Helbing.

What is needed is a knowledge accelerator, to collide different branches of knowledge, he says.

“Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies constitutes the most pressing scientific grand challenge of our century.”

The result would be the LES. It would be able to predict the spread of infectious diseases, such as Swine Flu, identify methods for tackling climate change or even spot the inklings of an impending financial crisis, he says.

But how would such colossal system work?

For a start it would need to be populated by data – lots of it – covering the entire gamut of activity on the planet, says Dr Helbing.

It would also be powered by an assembly of yet-to-be-built supercomputers capable of carrying out number-crunching on a mammoth scale.

Although the hardware has not yet been built, much of the data is already being generated, he says.

For example, the Planetary Skin project, led by US space agency Nasa, will see the creation of a vast sensor network collecting climate data from air, land, sea and space.

In addition, Dr Helbing and his team have already identified more than 70 online data sources they believe can be used including Wikipedia, Google Maps and the UK government’s data repository

Drowning in data

Integrating such real-time data feeds with millions of other sources of data – from financial markets and medical records to social media – would ultimately power the simulator, says Dr Helbing.

The next step is create a framework to turn that morass of data in to models that accurately replicate what is taken place on Earth today.

That will only be possible by bringing together social scientists and computer scientists and engineers to establish the rules that will define how the LES operates.

Such work cannot be left to traditional social science researchers, where typically years of work produces limited volumes of data, argues Dr Helbing.

Nor is it something that could have been achieved before – the technology needed to run the LES will only become available in the coming decade, he adds.

Human behaviour

For example, while the LES will need to be able to assimilate vast oceans of data it will simultaneously have to understand what that data means.

That becomes possible as so-called semantic web technologies mature, says Dr Helbing.

Today, a database chock-full of air pollution data would look much the same to a computer as a database of global banking transactions – essentially just a lot of numbers.

But semantic web technology will encode a description of data alongside the data itself, enabling computers to understand the data in context.

What’s more, our approach to aggregating data stresses the need to strip out any of that information that relates directly to an individual, says Dr Helbing.

That will enable the LES to incorporate vast amounts of data relating to human activity, without compromising people’s privacy, he argues.

Once an approach to carrying out large-scale social and economic data is agreed upon, it will be necessary to build supercomputer centres needed to crunch that data and produce the simulation of the Earth, says Dr Helbing.

Generating the computational power to deal with the amount of data needed to populate the LES represents a significant challenge, but it’s far from being a showstopper.

If you look at the data-processing capacity of Google, it’s clear that the LES won’t be held back by processing capacity, says Pete Warden, founder of the OpenHeatMap project and a specialist on data analysis.

While Google is somewhat secretive about the amount of data it can process, in May 2010 it was believed to use in the region of 39,000 servers to process an exabyte of data per month – that’s enough data to fill 2 billion CDs every month.

Reality mining

If you accept that only a fraction of the “several hundred exabytes of data being produced worldwide every year… would be useful for a world simulation, the bottleneck won’t be the processing capacity,” says Mr Warden.

“Getting access to the data will be much more of a challenge, as will figuring out something useful to do with it,” he adds.

Simply having lots of data isn’t enough to build a credible simulation of the planet, argues Warden. “Economics and sociology have consistently failed to produce theories with strong predictive powers over the last century, despite lots of data gathering. I’m sceptical that larger data sets will mark a big change,” he says.

“It’s not that we don’t know enough about a lot of the problems the world faces, from climate change to extreme poverty, it’s that we don’t take any action on the information we do have,” he argues.

Regardless of the challenges the project faces, the greater danger is not attempting to use the computer tools we have now – and will have in future – to improve our understanding of global socio-economic trends, says Dr Helbing.

“Over the past years, it has for example become obvious that we need better indicators than the gross national product to judge societal development and well-being,” he argues.

At it’s heart, the LES is about working towards better methods to measure the state of society, he says, which would account for health, education and environmental issues. “And last but not least, happiness.”

Man’s Brain Has Been Shrinking Over Last 20,000 Years

It’s not something we’d like to admit, but it seems the human race may actually be becoming increasingly dumb. Man’s brain has been gradually shrinking over the last 20,000 years, according to a new report.

This decrease in size follows two million years during which the human cranium steadily grew in size, and it’s happened all over the world, to both sexes and every race.

‘Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimetres to 1,350 cubic centimetres, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball,’ Kathleen McAuliffe writes in Discover magazine.

‘The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion.’

She was reporting on comments made by Dr John Hawks, an anthropologist from the University of Wisconsin, who argues that the fact the size of the human brain is decreasing doesn’t necessarily mean our intelligence is in decline as well.

Some paleontologists agree with this diagnosis, that our brains may have become smaller in size, but increasingly efficient.

But others believe that man has indeed become steadily more stupid as he has evolved.

Several theories have been advanced to explain the mystery of the shrinking brain. One is that big heads were necessary to survive Upper Paleolithic life, which involved cold, outdoor activities.

A second theory is that skulls developed to cope with a chewy diet of rabbits, reindeer, foxes and horses.

As our food has become easier to eat, so our heads have stopped growing, according to supporters of this theory.

Other experts say that with high infant mortality, only the toughest survived – and the toughest tended to have big heads. Therefore a gradually decreasing infant mortality rate has led to a proportionate decrease in the size of our brains.

A recent study conducted by David Geary and Drew Bailey, cognitive scientists at the University of Missouri, explored how cranial size changed as humans adapted to an increasingly complex social environment between 1.9million and 10,000 years ago.

They found that when population density was low, such as during the majority of our evolution, the cranium increased in size. But when a certain area’s population changed from sparse to dense, our cranium size decreased.

They concluded that as increasingly complex societies emerged, the brain grew smaller because people didn’t have to be as smart to stay alive.

But Dr Geary warns against stereotyping our ancestors as being more intelligent than us.

He said: ‘Practically speaking, our ancestors were not our intellectual or creative equals because they lacked the same kind of cultural support.

‘The rise of agriculture and modern cities based on economic specialisation has allowed the very brightest people to focus their efforts on the sciences, the arts and other fields.

‘Their ancient counterparts didn’t have that infrastructure to support them. It took all their efforts just to get through life.’

Dr Hawks, on the other hand, believes that the decrease in the size of our brains may actually show we are getting more intelligent.

The brain, he says, uses up to 20 per cent of all the fuel we consume. Therefore a bigger brain will require more energy and take longer to develop.

Dr Hawks notes that a boom in the human population between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago led to an unusual advantageous mutation to take place.

He believes this could have resulted in the brain becoming more streamlined, our neurochemistry shifting to boost the capacity of our brains.

But it seems the size of our brains could be on the increase again.

A recent study by anthropologist Richard Jantz of the University of Tennessee found that our brain size is on the increase again.

He measured and compared the craniums of Americans of African and European descent from late colonial times to the 20th century and found that our brain size is on the move again.

Scientists Find Evidence For ‘Chronesthesia,’ or Mental Time Travel

Researchers have found evidence for “chronesthesia,” which is the brain’s ability to be aware of the past and future, and to mentally travel in subjective time. They found that activity in different brain regions is related to chronesthetic states when a person thinks about the same content during the past, present, or future…

The ability to remember the past and imagine the future can significantly affect a person’s decisions in life. Scientists refer to the brain’s ability to think about the past, present, and future as “chronesthesia,” or mental time travel, although little is known about which parts of the brain are responsible for these conscious experiences. In a new study, researchers have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of mental time travel and better understand the nature of the mental time in which the metaphorical “travel” occurs.

The researchers, Lars Nyberg from Umea University in Umea, Sweden; Reza Habib from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois; and Alice S. N. Kim, Brian Levine, and Endel Tulving from the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, have published their results in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Mental time travel consists of two independent sets of processes: (1) those that determine the contents of any act of such ‘travel’: what happens, who are the ‘actors,’ where does the action occur; it is similar to the contents of watching a movie – everything that you see on the screen; and (2) those that determine the subjective moment of time in which the action takes place – past, present, or future,” Tulving told

“In cognitive neuroscience, we know quite a bit (relatively speaking) about perceived, remembered, known, and imagined space,” he said. “We know essentially nothing about perceived, remembered, known, and imagined time. When you remember something that you did last night, you are consciously aware not only that the event happened and that you were ‘there,’ as an observer or participant (’episodic memory’), but also that it happened yesterday, that is, at a time that is no more. The question we are asking is, how do you know that it happened at a time other than ‘now’?”

In their study, the researchers asked several well-trained subjects to repeatedly think about taking a short walk in a familiar environment in either the imagined past, the real past, the present, or the imagined future. By keeping the content the same and changing only the mental time in which it occurs, the researchers could identify which areas of the brain are correlated with thinking about the same event at different times.

The results showed that certain regions in the left lateral parietal cortex, left frontal cortex, and cerebellum, as well as the thalamus, were activated differently when the subjects thought about the past and future compared with the present. Notably, brain activity was very similar for thinking about all of the non-present times (the imagined past, real past, and imagined future).

Sundown Lounge No. 239


Black Science Fiction Society Items


The Darkness Launch Party!

Time: January 21, 2011 from 6pm to 9pm
Location: This event will be held at two venues simultaneously! 6pm PST/9pm EST
Website or Map

Event Type: virtual, book, launch!
Organized By: Crystal Connor

*Live On-Air & Real Time Chat:
Call in live to and or post questions and comments on Crystal’s Facebook Fan Page for live on-air & real-time answers, responses, & comments.

*Online Scavenger Hunt & Trivia Quizzes:
Race against other guest to find the clues hidden within the contents of Crystal’s blog or fan page comments & test your knowledge of the author for a chance to win 1 of 5 autographed c...opies of The Darkness!

One guest will win a grand prize of an autographed Hardback copy of The Darkness (not sold in stores), a "The Darkness" promotional tee shirt, a 2011 Artificial Light calendar, along other with prizes!

*Betcha Didn’t Know:
Listen to & read comments from Crystal’s family & friends as they mortify her by telling embarrassing facts & stories.

*Special Guest’s:
Ink slinger of Horror, Jonathon Moon
Fantasy Author, Wendy Raven McNair
Graphic Artist, Charles Apellaniz
Mixed media artist and cover designer for The Darkness Yvette Montoya
Executive Producer for Necropolis Studio Productions, Dave Frizzell
Film Maker & Programming Director, Crypticon Seattle, Eric Morgret
Senior Editor/Submissions Manager, NorGus Press Matt Nord

Linda Addison & Gregory Frost at FANTASTIC FICTION reading series

Time: January 19, 2011 from 7pm to 8:30pm
Location: KGB Bar
Street: 85 East 4th Street
City/Town: New York
Event Type: reading, series
Organized By: Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel

Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of BEING FULL OF LIGHT, INSUBSTANTIAL is the first African-American to receive the HWA's Bram Stoker Award. Her latest work can be found in GENESIS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK SCIENCE FICTION, DARK FAITH, and NEW BLOOD anthologies.


Gregory Frost's SHADOWBRIDGE duology (SHADOWBRIDGE and LORD TOPHET) was named one of the top four fantasy novels by the American Library Association in 2009 and was a finalist for the James Tiptree Award. He's currently at work on two other novel-length projects.


Humans and Neanderthals Co-existed with Another Humanoid Species

A single finger bone found in this Siberian cave led to an amazing discovery. Early humans and Neanderthals co-existed with another humanoid species called Denisovans. And many present-day humans carry genes that prove our ancestors had children with Denisovans, too.

The new species is named after the cave where the 30,000 year-old finger bone was found. Researchers had been searching for Neanderthal bones in the area, and were surprised to discover what they initially thought was a fossil from an early human’s little finger. To find out more, they shipped the bone off to the Max Planck Institute in Germany, where evolutionary biologist Svante Pääbo had already sequenced several Neanderthal genomes. Pääbo’s tests gave a shocking result: The genome sequence they got from the bone showed that it was neither human nor Neanderthal.

And yet it was undeniably a human relative, who had clearly lived among humans and Neanderthals thousands of years ago in the caves of Siberia. After careful analysis, a team of genomics experts figured out where the Denisovans fit into the puzzle of human ancestry. Most likely they are descended from a common ancestor shared with Neanderthals. When early humans left Africa about 300 or 400 thousand years ago, they spread out across Europe and Asia. Those who went west to Europe became the heavy-browed, squat Neanderthals. And those who went East became Denisovans.

Genomics expert Richard Edward Green worked on analyzing the Denisovan DNA. In an email to io9, he explained:

The genome of the Denisovans is more diverged from modern humans than any two humans are from each other. It’s almost exactly as diverged as the Neanderthal genome was. That’s one of the reasons that we think the Denisovans and the Neanderthals are descendants of a single migration event into Eurasia.

Another wave of early human migration spilled from Africa about 70 to 80 thousand years ago. These travelers encountered both Neanderthals and Denisovans, eventually settling down and forming families with them. As a result, many Europeans have Neanderthal DNA; and, as the researchers report today in Nature, some Melanesian people from Papua have Denisovan DNA.

The picture of early human life that emerges is a lot messier than what we believed even just twenty years ago, when many anthropologists believed humans diverged from Neanderthals and the two species never interbred again. Now it seems that humans had many cousin species – at least two that we know of – and that we separated from them only to rejoin them later, forming families and creating lineages that persist to the present day.

So what makes the Denisovans and Neanderthals separate species from early humans anyway, given that all three groups co-habitated and had children together? Green said:

Answering that question – How much DNA divergence is necessary to call something a new species? – is a very difficult one. We know there was admixture between early modern humans and a population related to the Denisovans. We can see this in the genomes of individuals from Papua New Guinea, as described in the paper. Thus, from this perspective they were similar enough to successfully mate with our ancestors. The sad, frustrating truth, though is that there is no simple answer to how much divergence must be present to call something a different species or sub-species or variety or whatever.

Regardless of whether the Denisovans were another species, or just distant cousins, they are proof that humans have not always been alone among the primates. Within the last 50 thousand years, we shared the planet with other intelligent hominids who weren’t quite human.

If we want to know what humanity might look like 50 thousand years from now, after we’ve colonized space and spent millennia evolving in dramatically different environments, we should look back to the Denisovans’ humble cave in Siberia. There, three very different types of human beings met after a long time apart. And formed a community together.

Biting Cold Winters Driven by Global Warming

Counter-intuitive but true, say scientists: a string of freezing European winters scattered over the last decade has been driven in large part by global warming.

The culprit, according to a new study, is the Arctic’s receding surface ice, which at current rates of decline could to disappear entirely during summer months by century’s end.

The mechanism uncovered triples the chances that future winters in Europe and north Asia will be similarly inclement, the study reports.

Bitingly cold weather wreaked havoc across Europe in the winter months of 2005-2006, dumping snow in southern Spain and plunging eastern Europe and Russia into an unusually — and deadly — deep freeze.

Another sustained cold streak in 2009-2010, gave Britain its coldest winter in 14 years, and wreaked transportation havoc across the continent. This year seems poised to deliver a repeat performance.

At first glance, this flurry of frostiness would seem to be at odds with standard climate change scenarios in which Earth’s temperature steadily rises, possibly by as much as five or six degrees Celsius (9.0 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.

Climate sceptics who question the gravity of global warming or that humans are to blame point to the deep chills as confirmation of their doubts.

Such assertions, counter scientists, mistakenly conflate the long-term patterns of climate with the short-term vagaries of weather, and ignore regional variation in climate change impacts.

New research, however, goes further, showing that global warming has actually contributed to Europe’s winter blues.

Rising temperatures in the Arctic — increasing at two to three times the global average — have peeled back the region’s floating ice cover by 20 percent over the last three decades.

This has allowed more of the Sun’s radiative force to be absorbed by dark-blue sea rather than bounced back into space by reflective ice and snow, accelerating the warming process.

More critically for weather patterns, it has also created a massive source of heat during the winter months.

“Say the ocean is at zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit),” said Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

“That is a lot warmer than the overlying air in the polar area in winter, so you get a major heat flow heating up the atmosphere from below which you don’t have when it is covered by ice. That’s a massive change,” he told AFP in an interview.

The result, according to a modelling study published earlier this month the Journal of Geophysical Research, is a strong high-pressure system over the newly-exposed sea which brings cold polar air, swirling counter-clockwise, into Europe.

“Recent severe winters like last year’s or the one of 2005-2006 do not conflict with the global warming picture, but rather supplement it,” explained Vladimir Petoukhov, lead author of the study and a physicist at the Potsdam Institute.

“These anomalies could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and north Asia,” he said.

The researchers created a computer model simulating the impact on weather patterns of a gradual reduction of winter ice cover in the Barents-Kara Sea, north of Scandinavia.

Other possible explanations for uncommonly cold winters — reduced Sun activity or changes in the Gulf Stream — “tend to exaggerate their effect,” Petoukhov said.

He also points out that during the freezing 2005-2006 winter, when temperatures averaged 10 C below normal in Siberia, there were no unusual variations in the north Atlantic oscillation, another putative cause.

Colder European winters do not indicate a slowing of global warming trends, only an uneven distribution, researchers say.

“As I look out my window is see about 30 centimetres of snow and the thermostat reads -14.0 C,” said Rahmstorf, speaking by phone from Potsdam.

“At the same time, in Greenland we have above zero temperatures — in December.”

Watching Television on a T-Shirt

Augmented Reality (AR) is the next big thing as far as mobile and smart phone technology is concerned. For the uninitiated, AR is a technology that uses virtual inputs, such as sound and graphics, to augment the physical real-world environment. A concrete example would be pointing a smart phone at a particular real world object and information about that object appears instantaneously on the mobile phone screen. As a technology, Augmented Reality has been around for quite some time. Many of us may not have realized it but sport scores and statistics seen during live sporting events was the first form of AR technology. With mobile phones becoming an integral part of our day-to-day lifestyle, AR is now making its presence felt with mobile technology.

Smart phone users would have already experienced AR technology. What may come as a surprise is T-shirt users being able to experience the same. Designer Sebastian Merchel has come up with a concept that merges technology and fashion in a way few would have thought of.

T-shirts have been a fashion accessory that has been used to express a strong individualistic sense. They have been used to carry messages ranging from touristy ones to clever lines to protest messages. With ‘AR Tees’- Sebastian Merchel’s T-shirt concept- the fashion accessory has gone hi-tech.

AR Tees is based on a simple concept and design frame. There is a black t-shirt (and it could be an ordinary one) on which is imprinted a specialized bar code. The bar code is framed by an old school television set with mechanical dials, antennae pointing in the opposite direction, and speaker grooves on the front.

So far it may look and function like a normal tee. Point a webcam at it though and the AR technology of the tee will blow you away. The TV set imprinted on the tee turns into a real, streaming television for the people watching the tee over the webcam. Old cartoons and Laurel and Hardy shows can be viewed by the person wearing the tee and anyone else watching the person over the webcam.

The AR tech on the tee works with Flash software embedded in your internet browser. The specialized bar code is read by the FLAR-ToolKit to track the content of the tee. Papervision3D has been used to give the content appearing on AR Tees a 3D effect.

In terms of fashion and technology, Sebastian Merchel’s AR Tees looks to be the next big thing.

This Tee is sure to become a fashion trend. However, Digital Shirtpocket Television and Remote Control in a Pillow are other awesome products that will impress you further.

Maverick Flying Car – Street and Air Legal Flying Car

September 28, 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a Light Sport Aircraft certificate for the Maverick Sport, the latest version of the flying dune buggy developed by Steve Saint and his crew at the Indigenous Peoples Technology and Education Center (ITEC).

Last June, the vehicle received a license plate from the Florida Department of Transportation. That makes the Maverick Sport only the second vehicle ever to be declared both street legal and air legal. The first was Moulton Taylor’s Aerocar, approved in 1956 by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (which became the FAA), but never commercialized.

I-TEC hopes to be in production by EAA Oshkosh 2011.


Sundown Lounge No. 238


Cram 10 Pushcart Poets
Puddin'head Press
ACM's The Chicago Issue
Pop Fiction Anthology



Six Poets Nominated For Pushcart Prizes is proud to announce that six poets from the new publication Cram Volume 10 have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. The nominated poets are Charlotte Digregorio, Cynthia Gallaher, Marilyn Peretti, Cynthia Pfeiffer, Stella Vinitchi Radulescu, and Deborah Nodler Rosen. I am delighted to showcase the nominated poems here on this page.

--CJ Laity


Help a poet on Christmas

Wouldn't you like to help a poet out on Christmas?
There's still time.

The quickest and most effective way to buy a book from Puddin'head is by using PayPal on our website. It also returns the highest return to any poet published directly by The Puddin'head Press.

And there's still time before Christmas.
We'll ship ASAP, so order now.

We have two new books by Jeff Helgeson and a wide selection of other books by Chicago poets.

Also help Puddin'head by checking out our wide selection of used books.

We are beginning our 25th year in business.
Keep an eye out for exciting new events.


ACM's Chicago Issue Is Finally Here!

Another Chicago Magazine #50 v.1
The Chicago Issue

ACM has released its 50th issue, an issue dedicated to our hometown of Chicago. To be perfectly honest, we never thought we’d make it to a 50th issue. ACM has never been known for fundraising skills, financial acumen, or an airtight organizational structure. Mostly we’ve just been known for being independent since 1977 and for publishing young and exciting writers as frequently as we can manage it on a shoestring budget. We like it that way. So when we realized that we were in fact still around and viable and putting out our 49th issue, it struck us that the best way to celebrate that nice, round number was to set about celebrating our roots and publishing a Chicago issue...

Excerpt of CJ Laity's review -

I first heard the call for submissions for ACM’s Chicago Issue over a year ago. It promised to deliver a “playful jab” at Granta, a journal that was first published in 1889 at Cambridge and that was reinvented in 1979 as a magazine of new writing. Months before the ACM open call, Granta had come out with its own “Chicago issue” that was released locally with a lot of hoopla, hoopla that was quickly drowned out by critics who complained of its “lack of Chicago writers.” Throughout 2010, ACM 50 became less of a playful jab and more of a labor of love for Editor-In-Chief Jacob Knabb and for the other ACM staff, as they set out to create something that showcased the local lit scene as it really exists, not as some publication located in London imagined it exists, so I think it is rather fitting that I picked up my copy of ACM at the recent Indie Lit Road Show, which was sort of a mini-bookfair held at Green Lantern Gallery, where several reps from our lit scene showcased their publications as a blizzard raged outdoors...


"Pop Fiction: Stories Inspired By Songs" is a newly published anthology from a group of members from the online writing community A years royalties from this exciting new publication are being donated to PC David Rathband's Blue Lamp Foundation, so make sure you grab yourself a copy...or two!

Influenced by everyone from The Clash to The Fall, via David Bowie and, er, Olivia Newton-John, Pop Fiction’s stories mix styles as eclectic as the songs which have inspired them, and showcase nine talented new voices as they celebrate one art form’s impact on another.'

The cover is based on The Clash's 'london calling' cover, adapted with the blessing of the photographer of that seminal shot - pennie smith!


Tobacco Mosaic Virus Boosts Lithium Batteries

The tobacco mosaic virus is a destructive beast infecting over a hundred different species of plants, including tomatoes. But it may have a weird eco benefit: Incorporated into lithium batteries, it can increase storage capacity ten times…

Scientists in the U.S. had already worked out how to coat the tiny rod-like cells of the virus with conductive materials. But the recent breakthrough has seen the nanorods incorporated into battery technology, with astonishingly beneficial results. The tobacco mosaic virus is a perfect candidate because it’s the right size and shape to aid construction of battery electrodes, and it’s self-replicating and self-assembling and can bind to metal.

The idea is that TMV nanorods are bound to the electrodes in a lithium cell–without the need for any bonding agent–and automagically increase the surface area of the electrode. This is a critical matter in battery design, since it affects how much electrical energy the battery can hold, and TMV’s benefits mean a similar cell can hold up to ten times more charge than a more conventional one.

This has all sorts of implications for mobile technology. Imagine every lithium battery in every mobile device you own lasting up to ten times longer. That would mean Apple’s new MacBook Airs could hang on in standby mode for 10 months, and Amazon’s Kindles may only require charging once every year. Smartphones could have useful call times extending up to a week, and as well as changing how we think about our tech this could have an eco upshot–you’d probably not leave your charger plugged in, sucking down vampire power as much as it does right now.

Alternatively, batteries could be made with the same capacity that they have now, only ten times smaller–freeing up designers to create all sorts of practically useful gadgets that would be impossible at the moment. Micro-batteries are also possible, meaning rechargeable batteries could replace disposable ones in devices like hearing aids.

If the scientists at the University of Maryland driving this research find a way to scale up the invention to a commercial scale, then tobacco growers around the world may find themselves contributing something more positive to society, and the way we think about mobile technology may change radically.

Scientists Create Mouse From Two Fathers

Scientists have created mice with two fathers – raising the possibility of gay couples having children who are genetically their own.

In experiments hailed as a ‘new form of mammalian reproduction’, American researchers used a complex series of steps to engineer ‘male eggs’ to be carried by female mice.

The creatures were then mated with normal males – leading to the creation of pups with two fathers.

The geneticists behind the controversial technique said it could potentially be used to improve livestock breeds or preserve endangered species. More provocatively, they claim that if the technique can be refined, ‘someday two men could produce their own genetic sons and daughters’.

But critics say such a scenario would sideline women from the creation of life – and a child’s health and wellbeing should always take precedence over an adult’s desire to be a parent, however strong.

The researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas started by using a complicated series of steps to create ‘male eggs’.

They began with a male mouse, Father A, and used a sample of his skin to create stem cells – ‘master cells’ capable of turning into many other cell types. They then grew the stem cells over and over in a dish until some naturally lost their male Y chromosome.

These cells, which still had other DNA from Father A, were then injected into young embryos which were carried through pregnancy by surrogate mothers.

The pups that were born were chimeras – organisms consisting of two or more tissues of different genetic composition – and some produced eggs that had only the genetic material from Father A. In other words, they were ‘male eggs’.

The female mice with these ‘male eggs’ were then mated with another male – Father B. This produced babies, some of which were made entirely of genetic material inherited from Father A and Father B.

Other stem cell experts and ethicists have questioned the need to go through such a complex process to create life.

Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, said: ‘One day it may be possible in people, although the technical barriers are far higher than in mice, plus there are major safety issues.

‘The real question, is why would doctors want to use the technique for people? I would be extremely surprised if this scientific discovery had any impact on clinical medicine.’

Josephine Quintavalle, of campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: ‘By the scientists’ own admission it was a weird project, but apart from doing it just for the hang of it, there does not seem to be any real justification for the research.

‘We should worry when scientists in the area of mammalian reproduction seem to be beyond self-regulation.’

Google Body Browser – New 3D Medical Browser That Will Make Us All Doctors

Not content with letting you spy on your neighbours with Street View or hover over far-away countries Google has now developed a new browser that maps out the entire human body.

Called Google Body Browser, the hi-tech 3D application has been hailed as a breakthrough in the study of anatomy that could revolutionise our understanding of the human body and even fast-track medical research.

The gadget, yet to be officially released, lets you explore the human body in much the same way you can navigate the world on Google Earth.

It is likely to be the perfect tool for those hypochondriacs who like to use Google to find out what is ailing them and who will get a gruesome thrill from analysing every last vein.

Google has, until recently, been tight-lipped about the application’s development, but a new video has appeared on the internet which provides a sneak peek at how the new tool will work.

Google Body Browser also ushers in the introduction of brand new internet technology called WebGL, that will allow complex 3D graphics to be used on normal web pages, without the need for specially adapted browser plug-ins like Flash or Java.

In the video, the browser is used to dissect the human body and identify organs, bones and muscle groups.

The body can be turned, manipulated and stripped to the bare bones to show how its functions work and connect.

One blogger who witnessed the demonstration said he was excited by the browser’s potential: ‘One can quickly see the possibilities of how this could help anatomical education.

‘Last year I got the opportunity to work on an open standards based web3D medical app for learning the bones of the body. After witnessing how that app really helped students learn the bones, I am sold on using web3D for medical education’.

Ahead of its official unveiling Google has released a version available on WebGL-supported browsers or beta versions of Firefox and Google Chrome, which can be downloaded from the Google Body Browser site (

WebGL is expected to become standard in new versions of most internet browsers, including Firefox, to be released next year.

The technology is tipped to encourage the creation of a wide variety of 3D-enhanced web applications – potentially making the internet a more productive and intuitive environment for users.

A Google spokesman was unavailable for comment.

Sundown Lounge No. 237


Music Connection Mag
Stocking Stuffers
Stars Go Dim at Jingle Ball
Wendy Raven McNair Book Signing


From the latest bulletin...


ikeZEBRA, the world's largest hub for independent music, in partnership with Music Connection, is proud to present liveZEBRA 2010! Considered by many as the independent music event of the year, liveZEBRA 2010 features a live performance by Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum selling artist Everclear. Supporting Everclear is After Midnight Project, and 4 emerging artists. Those performers are likeZEBRA artist Culprit, along with Leftover Cuties, Amy Heffernan, and Starving For Gravity, who are included in Music Connection's Hot 100 for 2010. The concert will take place at the Key Club, in West Hollywood, CA, on Tuesday, Dec. 14th, with doors opening at 7:00pm. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Music Saves Lives ( For ticket information please visit


Jazz bass legend Stanley Clarke, whose 40 albums and 60 film scores have made him one of the most recognized names in the annals of contemporary music, has announced the releases of the very first two artists on his Roxboro Entertainment Group label--Lloyd Gregory and Kennard Ramsey. The guitarist Gregory's eponymous album and multi-instrumentalist Ramsey's album Somos are available today on iTunes and The albums will be made available on CD this month. "When you are starting a record company, diversity plays a major role," says Clarke. "All of Roxboro's artists come from different locations in the world and offer remarkable cultural differences."


Musician/author/producer Mickey Leigh is hoping to spread his message of support to victims of bullying with a newly created video for "I Won't Be Your Victim," a song (he co-wrote) by the Rattlers, the NYC band he formed in 1979. With this stirring and thought-provoking video that utilizes archival footage of social and political bullying through the ages, Leigh (brother of Joey Ramone) is also hoping to prevent future bullycides (teenage suicides caused by bullying). View the video here:



Stars Go Dim Opening for Goo Goo Dolls at Jingle Ball this Fri!

As a result of winning the Subway Fresh Artist competition Stars Go Dim will be going to San Francisco, CA this Friday, December 10th to open up for The Goo Goo Dolls and Kris Allen at the Star 101.3 Jingle Ball. This is all happening so quickly and we are extremely excited about the support we are getting from Clear Channel, Subway, and Ourstage. Special thanks to all our fans who helped make this possible. Pick up your tickets HERE!


Time: December 11, 2010 from 6pm to 8pm
Location: The Avenue Shopping Center
Street: 4475 Roswell Road
City/Town: MARIETTA, GA 30062
Website or Map:
Phone: 770.565.0947
Event Type: book, signing
Organized By: BORDERS: John Alford

Come join me where it all began. My first book signing for the Asleep trilogy took place at this Borders book store. Now I'm returning for the debut release of AWAKE. I'm scheduled for 3 days in December so come to Borders for your holiday shopping and I'll see you on the 5th, 11th or the 23rd. Better yet, see you on all 3 days!


Spray-On Stem Cell Healing Technology

Doctors at the University of Utah’s Burn Care Center are reporting success in their pilot project testing stem cell solutions sprayed directly onto burns.

Combining a red-cell-free concentration of the patient’s own platelets and progenitor cells with calcium and thrombin, researchers created a solution that is sprayed on to burns topically. In tests, the spray has proven effective in the treatment of small burns and seems to improve the likelihood that a skin graft will take, which could carry positive implications for the application of this technology to other types of transplants.

The University’s research in spray-on stem cells comes on the coattails of a similar U.S. clinical trial of Australian-based ReCell that began last December.

ReCell, a comparable treatment method, has been in widespread use in Australia, Europe and China and garnered attention for its quick treatment of victims of a 2002 bombing in Bali. Much like the Utah study, the ReCell process dissolves basal cells and keratinocytes from a biopsy sample, producing a sprayable enzyme suspension.

Both methods show promise for the use of regenerative technologies in burn treatment. The U.S. Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine awarded the ReCell clinical trials a $1.45 million grant in 2009 to expedite the process, suggesting that there’s enough interest for successful test results to trigger quick approval and eventual widespread use.

Anesthetic Gases Cause As Much Warming As 1 Million Cars

According to new research done by the University of Copenhagen and NASA, the anesthetic gases used during surgery have huge global warming potential, but yet there is no obligation to report them–nor seeming awareness about them on the part of the general public. In fact, in total these anesthetics cause as much warming as one million cars…

The study found that different anesthetic gases have differing warming potential, with the worst being 1620 times more powerful than CO2. The mildest one has 210 times the warming potential, and the third gas tested warmed the atmosphere 510 times more than CO2, by weight. The researchers note that while the amount of gas used in each individual surgery is small, the combined impact is significant.

Professor Ole John Nielsen, who led the analysis, says "This ought to make anesthesiologists sit up and take notice. If all three compounds have equal therapeutic worth, there is every reason to choose the one with the lowest warming potential."

x More Cars or More Medicine? Choose Life Now it’d be easy to leap to the (wrong) conclusion that this is just nitpicking by scientists and that the worth of anesthetic gas in surgery far outweighs the global warming potential of their use. No doubt that millions of lives have been saved with modern anesthetics enabling surgery that simply would have been impossible prior to their introduction.

But going beyond the specifics of what Professor Nielsen advises about choosing the one with the lowest potential warming, this is a perfect teaching example on how we need to increasingly start thinking about resource usage.

Do we want to keep using anesthetics? Yes. Should we use the one with the lowest negative environmental impact? Yes. If it’s a trade off between medical practice that harms the environment or personal mobility which harms the environment, which to prioritize? Medicine, every time. There are countless ways of moving people around with lower emissions than cars–with some of the most important, walking and bicycling, have effectively zero emissions–but until a zero emission anesthetic comes along, not discounting the power of acupuncture or other natural anesthetic sources, then it seems the tradeoff to be made is clear.

Sonex Aircraft’s DIY Electric Airplane Makes Maiden Flight

Modeled by Sonex Aircraft on a standard Waiex kit aircraft, the Waiex N270DC all-electric experimental aircraft has completed its maiden flight in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The airplane is one of the several models of kit-built aircrafts designed and produced by the company and this electric variant was under development for several years.

The N270DC is powered by a 54KW electric brushless DC motor that is fueled by a 14.5KWh lithium polymer battery system. The maiden flight was just a quick hop out of the ground effect down runway 27 and back to the ground in a few seconds, but it was enough for the designers to check the performance of the systems before expanding the flight testing.

The company has now started working on motor v4.0 and motor controller V 12.0 that will be integrated on the N270DC.

World’s Smartest Teenagers Are From Shanghai

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s “Pisa” report, released every three years, studied 470,000 15-year-old pupils in 65 countries around the more developed parts of the world.

South Korea and Finland topped the country rankings in the survey but, taken separately from China, the huge city of Shanghai — taking part in the survey for the first time — came top in all three of the disciplines.

“More than one-quarter of Shanghai’s 15-year-olds demonstrated advanced mathematical thinking skills to solve complex problems, compared to an OECD average of just three percent,” the OECD said.

Other Asian countries and regions also scored particularly well, and OECD education expert Eric Charbonnier said the continent’s success was a result of educational values that favour equality as well as quality.

“In Shanghai, a city of 20 million, they followed policies to fight against social inequality, to target the schools that were in most difficulty and send them the best performing heads and most experienced teachers,” he said.

South Korea came second in comprehension, fourth in maths and sixth in science and Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan were well-placed.

Finland, whose educational system has been hailed by Western experts, remains the best performing European country, coming third in comprehension, second in science and third in maths.

Seven European countries performed better than the OECD average: Belgium, Estonia, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Switzerland. Of these, Poland was praised for making rapid progress through school reform.

The United States, Sweden, Germany, France, Ireland, Denmark, Britain, Hungary and Portugal scored around the average for richer countries, but pupils in Sweden and Ireland performed worse than three years ago.

“Better educational outcomes are a strong predictor for future economic growth,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria.

“While national income and educational achievement are still related, PISA shows that two countries with similar levels of prosperity can produce very different results,” he said.

“This shows an image of a world divided neatly into rich and well-educated countries and poor and ba

dly-educated countries is now out of date.” The study also found that girls read better than boys in every country, by the equivalent of one year of school. The gender gap has not shrunk anywhere since 2000, and widened in France, Israel, Korea, Portugal and Sweden.

Analysing the results, experts found that high performing school systems prefer to pay teachers more rather than reduce class sizes, and countries that force underperformers to repeat years to do badly overall.

Sundown Lounge No. 236


Kent Foreman Passes
Pushcart Nominations
Smog Veil Records
Alice Peacock at The Mint in Jan.
Wowio presents Little Miss Strange Graphic Novel
Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival Submissions Open



Chicago Poetry Scene Mourns Loss Of Kent Foreman

Only yesterday, Monday, November 29, the Guild Complex sent out the unfortunate email letting everyone know that the venue that has been hosting their Palabra Pura reading series, Decima Musa, was closing down and that the reading series would be temporarily suspended until they find a new location. At the bottom of that email was this link to their website where you can listen to excerpts from "Living History,” a tribute to Chicago poet Kent Foreman that they held on August 24 at the Jazz Showcase, when about a hundred people came out in the afternoon to hear readings by Regie Gibson, Roger Bonair-Agard, Marty McConnell as well as a lengthy set by Foreman himself. That performance would prove to be one of Kent Foreman’s last. Today, as if to seal the deal on a year that has witnessed the loss of one Chicago poet after another, Kent Foreman’s Facebook page is swarming with messages from loved ones saying their goodbyes, where Patricia Smith writes “Loving and missing you” and suggests Chicago should be renamed after him and Tyehimba Jess wishes him “peace.” After a year of battling lung cancer, Kent Foreman has passed away.

The poetry audio project reVerse calls Kent Foreman “a beat generation poet who helped pioneer the Chicago performance poetry scene.” In his long career as a poet, he performed onstage with the likes of Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka, was mentored by Oscar Brown, Jr., and has been a mentor to an entire generation of performance poets. Online, his work can be found here at e-poets as well as on YouTube performing for Words That Kill and HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. In June 2004, over one-hundred poets joined in a boycott of a local arts festival after vendors associated with the festival slung racial slurs at Kent Foreman as he read his award winning poem Chicago on an outdoor stage in Wicker Park. As a result of the boycott, Kent’s photo appeared in a full page article in the Chicago Reader and also in a half page article in the Sun-Times, where they published the first 25 lines of his poem to show their support.

Kent Foreman’s gritty Chicago style of spoken-word poetry lives on in the work of the poets who he mentored, who have in turn passed the baton on to a new generation of performance poets. Presently, there is probably nowhere else where you are more likely to enjoy samples of Foremanesque poetry than at the Guild Complex’s presentation of Tour Guides, that opens this weekend at Chicago Center for the Performing Arts. If you would like to honor Foreman's legacy by supporting Tour Guides, click here to learn more about it.

The Gravedigger - the classic poem by Kent Foreman

--- to begin nominating poets for Pushcart Prizes.

As promised, this year will begin annually nominated poets for the esteemed Pushcart Prize. As editor of Poetry Cram Magazine, I intend to nominate up to six poems from the upcoming Cram Volume 10. However, since nominations submitted to the Pushcart Prize editors must be postmarked by December 1, 2010, I can only consider submissions that I receive by Tuesday, November 30.

I know a lot of you like to get your Cram submissions in at the last moment, but I highly encourage you to get your submissions in early this time, in order to be considered for a Pushcart Prize.

I will be accepting submissions of poetry up until December 10, but only those submissions received by November 30 will be considered for a Pushcart Prize nomination.

Details about how to submit to Poetry Cram can be found at:


From Smog Veil Records

...Cheetah Chrome and Syl Sylvain kick off their tour with Batusis in Milwaukee at Shank Hall.

...New 7" releases from Rocket From The Tombs and The Butcher Boys

...4 amazing 12" releases from Prisoners, Batusis, This Moment In Black History, and the This Moment In Black History/Sun God split.


Media Contact:
917-751-2432 *




November 29, 2010 (New York, NY) Alice Peacock is welcoming her fall tour with a new baby boy in tow to promote her is set to hit the ground running with her new cd, “Love Remains” Producer Danny Myrick helps to set this disc apart from prior releases by giving it a ’70s, California-country sound not unlike that of Linda Ronstadt during her Stone Ponies phase. Her fourth release celebrates faith and human connection with buoyant, outwardly focused lyrics, feel-good guitar hooks and heartland grooves. The skilled ensemble that helped achieve this family-style hootenanny includes players who’ve worked with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Brooks & Dunn, LeAnn Rimes and Gretchen Wilson. Boston’s Weekly Dig weighs in; “On Love Remains, Peacock shows off her airtight songwriting chops, and proves she can dance back and forth around a hook.”

Working with co-writer/co-producer Danny Myrick – who, like Alice, is the child of a minister – Peacock found herself addressing issues of faith in myriad ways on Love Remains, on songs like the anthemic “If I Could Talk To God,” the rollicking “Real Life,” the expansive, gospel-inflected “Trying To Hold Back Time,” the punchy, resolute “Forgiveness,” the devastating, indelible “I Am Mary” and the timeless-sounding title track.

“Can music change the world?/Yeah, I think it can,” Peacock sings in “Forgiveness.” Love Remains is a testament to the transformative power of love, belief and song.


04 Dec Eddie's Attic 8:00pm Decatur, GA
21 Jan The Mint 7:30PM Los Angles, CA
22 Jan Soho Music Lounge 6PM Santa Barbara, CA
04 Mar Memorial Opera House 7PM Valpraiso, IN w/Shawn Mullins!


Wowio presents Little Miss Strange Graphic Novel...

Wowio is a book site which features E-books in a pdf format that can be downloaded to your computer. My graphic novel "Little Miss Strange" is now available as an e-book which can be read on your computer, ipad, iphone and other electronic devices.

Here's the link for you to check it out... For a $1.99, you can't go wrong.

Little Miss Strange was originally printed by Millennium Publishing in the late 1990's as a B&W 32 page comic. Here is the story as a full and complete graphic novel, expanding on the mythos of the character and her world.

She's a black alien sorceress who is also a time traveler.

If you prefer a printed version go to or barnes and

I hope that you will enjoy this book.

Winston Blakely / Luis Sierra


Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival Submissions Open

The dates are set for the 4th Annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival (TM):

Sat. June 11- Sun. 12, 2011
Japanese American National Museum
Los Angeles, CA

Now is your chance to submit your film, writing, workshop proposal, or performance art.

There is NO submission fee if you submit your work by Feb. 14, 2011! So don't wait--send us your stories of the Mixed experience NOW! For complete submission information visit the Festival website ( You'll find the submission forms on the left navigation bar. (And please tell your friends! Tweet, add to your Facebook status update, post this announcement on your blog!)


Physicist Finds Universe Existed Before the Big Bang

The current cosmological consensus is that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago with the Big Bang. But a legendary physicist says he’s found the first evidence of an eternal, cyclic cosmos.

The Big Bang model holds that everything that now comprises the universe was once concentrated in a single point of near-infinite density. Before this singularity exploded and the universe began, there was absolutely nothing – indeed, it’s not clear whether one can even use the term “before” in reference to a pre-Big-Bang cosmos, as time itself may not have existed yet. In the current model, the universe began with the Big Bang, underwent cosmic inflation for a fraction of a second, then settled into the much more gradual expansion that is still going on, and likely will end with the universe as an infinitely expanded, featureless cosmos.

Sir Roger Penrose, one of the most renowned physicists of the last fifty years, takes issue with this view. He points out that the universe was apparently born in a very low state of entropy, meaning a very high degree of order initially existed, and this is what made the complex matter we see all around us (and are composed of) possible in the first place. His objection is that the Big Bang model can’t explain why such a low entropy state existed, and he believes he has a solution – that the universe is just one of many in a cyclical chain, with each Big Bang starting up a new universe in place of the one before.

How does this help? Well, Penrose posits the end of each universe will involve a return to low entropy. This is because black holes suck in all the matter, energy, and information they encounter, which works to remove entropy from our universe. (Where that entropy might go is another question entirely.) The universe’s continued expansion into eventual nothingness causes the black holes themselves to evaporate, which ultimately leaves the universe in a highly ordered state once again, ready to contract into another singularity and set off the next Big Bang.

As alternative theories go, it’s not without its merits, but there’s no evidence to support it…until now. He says he’s found evidence for his ideas in the cosmic microwave background, the microwave radiation that permeates the universe and was thought to have formed 300,000 years after the Big Bang, providing a record of the universe at that far distant time. Penrose and his colleague Vahe Gurzadyan have discovered clear concentric circles within the data, which suggests regions of the radiation have much smaller temperature ranges than elsewhere.

So what does that mean? Penrose believes these circles are windows into the previous universe, spherical ripples left behind by the gravitational effects of colliding black holes in the previous universe. He also says these circles don’t work well at all in the current inflationary model, which holds all temperature variations in the CMB should be truly random.

Here’s where the fun begins. If the circles are really there and are really doing what Penrose says they’re doing, then he’s managed to overthrow the standard inflationary model. But there’s a long way to go between where we are now and that point, assuming it ever happens.

The inflationary model has become the consensus for a good reason – it’s the best explanation we’ve got for the universe we have now – and so cosmologists will examine any results that appear to disprove it very critically. There are also a couple key assumptions in Penrose’s theory, particularly that all particles will lose their mass towards the end of the universe. Right now, we don’t know whether that will actually happen – in particular, there’s no proof that electrons ever decay.

Study: WiFi Makes Trees Sick

Radiation from Wi-Fi networks is harmful to trees, causing significant variations in growth, as well as bleeding and fissures in the bark, according to a recent study in the Netherlands.

All deciduous trees in the Western world are affected, according to the study by Wageningen University. The city of Alphen aan den Rijn ordered the study five years ago after officials found unexplained abnormalities on trees that couldn’t be ascribed to a virus or bacterial infection.

Additional testing found the disease to occur throughout the Western world. In the Netherlands, about 70 percent of all trees in urban areas show the same symptoms, compared with only 10 percent five years ago. Trees in densely forested areas are hardly affected.

Besides the electromagnetic fields created by mobile-phone networks and wireless LANs, ultrafine particles emitted by cars and trucks may also be to blame. These particles are so small they are able to enter the organisms.

The study exposed 20 ash trees to various radiation sources for a period of three months. Trees placed closest to the Wi-Fi radio demonstrated a “lead-like shine” on their leaves that was caused by the dying of the upper and lower epidermis of the leaves. This would eventually result in the death of parts of the leaves. The study also found that Wi-Fi radiation could inhibit the growth of corn cobs.

The researchers urged that further studies were needed to confirm the current results and determine long-term effects of wireless radiation on trees.

Sex Everyday Keeps Diseases Away

If you thought that the only benefit of sex was, well, pleasure, here’s some news for you. Making love is good for adults. And making love regularly is even better. Not only does it help you sleep well, relieve stress and burn calories, there are also several other reasons why you need to have sex more often.

Improves cardiovascular health
A recent study says that men who have sex more than twice a week, have a lesser risk of getting a heart attack, than men who had sex less than once a month.

Increases immunity
Regular lovemaking increases the level of the immune-boosting antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA), which in turn makes your body stronger against illnesses like the common cold and fever.

Reduces stress
Stressed out with work or family problems? Don’t let it affect your performance in the bedroom. Not only will having sex improve your mood, but a study has also proven that folks, who indulge in regular bedroom activities can handle stress better and are happier people.

Relieves pain
If you’re using a headache as an excuse to not make love, stop doing that. Have sex instead, because, when you’re about to have an orgasm, the level of the hormone oxytocin increases by five times. This endorphin actually reduces aches and pains.

Promotes longevity
When one has an orgasm, a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone is released. This improves immunity, repairs tissue and keeps the skin healthy. Men, who have at least two orgasms a week, live longer than men who have sex just once every few weeks.

Increases blood circulation
Because your heart rate increases when you have sex, fresh blood is supplied to your organs and cells. While used blood is removed, the body also expels toxins and other materials that cause you to feel tired.

You sleep better
The sleep that you get just after you’ve made love will be much more relaxed. Getting a good night’s sleep will make you feel alert and overall healthy.

Improves overall fitness
If you find going to the gym mundane or working out at home a task, here’s another way to help you lose the flab and keep in shape. Regular sex will do wonders for your waistline. Half an hour of lovemaking burns more than 80 calories.

Increases levels of estrogen and testosterone
In men, the hormone testosterone is what makes them more passionate in the sack. Not only will it make you feel way better in bed, but it also improves your muscles and bones, keeps your heart healthy and keeps a check on your cholesterol. In women, on the other hand, the hormone estrogen protects them against heart disease and also determines a woman’s body scent.

The Solar Oven Restaurant in Chile

Eating out is convenient and relaxing. Unfortunately, it is also expensive and often wasteful. However, a family restaurant in Villaseca town of Valle del Elqui, Chile may inspire the way restaurant cook their food in the future, via solar ovens. (video)

At the Villaseca Solar Restaurant all the food is cooked in locally and handmade solar ovens. 10 solar ovens cook enough eco-friendly and healthy meals to serves up to 70 people a day. It can take several hours for a meal to cook, but that doesn’t discourage customers from eating at the restaurant.

What happens when the sun don’t shine? Well in Chile, the sun shines for about 310 days according to Wikia. 10 solar ovens are used to serve up to 60 customers a day. “On weekends, about 60 customers a day come to savor its specialties: fresh bread; cazuela, a meat stew; and leche asada, or flan, for dessert. It takes two hours to bake bread and about three hours to cook stew”.

The idea for a solar oven restaurant started in 1989 when four women in a village of 300 people agreed to allow researchers from the University of Chile to place solar ovens in their home. When the research end and the solar ovens needed to be returned the women didn’t want to let them go. Together with the help of others they raised enough money to make their very own solar ovens. They built 33 solar ovens. After a couple of years of experimenting with these ovens, to make them easier to handle and more efficient, the Villaseca Solar Restaurant was born.

Watch this detailed YouTube video of a ride up the restaurant for a tasty meal. Doesn’t the food look delicious?

Sundown Lounge No. 235


Urban World
Black Science Fiction Society Updates


Urban World is an online community where people can meet, chat, socialise and hear of forthcoming events and entertainment hotspots. The site hosts podcast links, music videos, fashion articles and celeb pics!

A box office is available for ticket purchases via the Urban World secure site (dedicated page coming soon!) and Promoters, club owners and PR agencies can upload the details of forthcoming events and build a profile to provide a listing of thier events. This includes picture galleries, venue information, location and contact details.

The Urban World members area includes member profiles, and image galleries where users can generate their own personal page under their username and web address. In addition, members can chat online with other registered users and use our emailing services (coming soon). Members can also enter ongoing competitions and win prize giveaways!


Black Science Fiction Society Taking Calls For Submissions



Local Author Expo in Birmingham

Come and join local authors at the beautiful East Building of Birmingham Public Library!
This event is free and open to the public.
Local Author Expo is sponsored by The Friends of the Birmingham Public Library

Time: December 4, 2010 from 11am to 3pm
Location: Birmingham Public Library, first floor of the East Building
Street: 2100 Park Place
City/Town: Birmingham Alabama
Website or Map:http://[http//
Phone: 205-226-3726
Event Type: author, expo
Organized By: Irene Harve


Streetlights Could be Replaced by Trees Infused with Glowing Nanoparticles

Taiwanese researchers have come up with the elegant idea of replacing streetlights with trees, by implanting their leaves with gold nanoparticles. This causes the leaves to give off a red glow, lighting the road for passersby without the need for electric power. This ingenious triple threat of an idea could simultaneously reduce carbon emissions, cut electricity costs and reduce light pollution, without sacrificing the safety that streetlights bring.

As many good things do, this discovery came about by accident when the researchers were trying to create lighting as efficient as LEDs without using the toxic, expensive phosphor powder that LEDs rely on. The gold nanoparticles, shaped like sea urchins, put into the leaves of Bacopa caroliniana plants cause chlorophyll to produce the reddish luminescence.

In an added bonus, the luminescence will cause the leaves’ chloroplasts to photosynthesize, which will result in more carbon being captured from the air while the streets are lit. The next steps are to improve the efficiency of the bioluminescence and apply the technology to other biomolecules.

Computer Touchpad Made Out of Paper

How cool is this? An Afrotech forumer made a functional computer touchpad out of paper and a little graphite drawn on with the tip of a pencil. The key: Graphite actually functions as a decent electrical conductor.

There isn’t much to explain here. It just uses pencil graphite on paper as a kind of two dimensional potentiometer. Four voltage dividers between 5v, 2M ohm resistors, the paper, and my grounded finger feeds signals from each corner into an Arduino. The Arduino does some insufficient math and spits out mouse coordinates that are not linear.

‘Racetrack’ Memory Could Make Your Computer 100,000 Times Faster by 2015

Swiss researchers have developed a new type of ‘Racetrack’ memory that’s 100,000 times faster than even the fastest of today’s hard drives. It’s efficient and durable, but the best news is that it could be in your computer by 2015.

This new ‘Racetrack’ memory is more than just a whole bunch of orders of magnitude faster than current computer memory. It also has no moving parts so it’s basically indestructible, and unlike RAM, doesn’t need to be continually powered on to work, making it much more energy efficient as well.

So, how does it work? Well, by storing bits of information magnetically on billions of tiny strands of nickel-iron nanowire — essentially the same way data is recorded onto a VHS tape, except a million times smaller. To access the data, an electric current pushes the bits around the nanowire like race cars, and they get read or written as they pass by. The bits themselves move around the wire at speeds of between four and five hundred miles per hour, which is how they get such ridiculously fast read/write speeds. To put that in perspective, if the bits were the size of actual race cars, they’d be traveling at nearly warp six.

The Swiss researchers are teaming up with IBM (who knows a thing or two about computers, we hear) to create a prototype, and a Racetrack memory system could be powering your computer within the next five to seven years.

Sundown Lounge No. 234


Caffeine Theatre
Stars Go Dim




Book & Music by Martin Wesley-Smith
Book & Lyrics by Peter Wesley-Smith
Directed by Jimmy McDermott
Musical Direction by Andra Velis Simon & Myron Silberstein
November 18-December 19, 2010
Previews November 16 & 17
Post-Show Discussion December 2

Co-Produced with Chicago Opera Vanguard

Storefront Theater
66 E. Randolph St.

“For the Snark was a Boojum, you see,” sets the stage for this fun-filled romp through the mind of writer Lewis Carroll. Part existential musical theatre and part fantasy adventure story, this riff on Carroll’s epic poem "The Hunting of the Snark" examines the psychological life of Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the man behind the Lewis Carroll pen name. As his poem warns, “catching Snarks is all well and good, but if your Snark is a Boojum, you will softly and suddenly vanish away.” But while the hunting party moves towards its fateful catch, they discover with Carroll and his Alice that Nothing is quite what it seems. Caffeine Theatre and Chicago Opera Vanguard collaborate on the American stage premiere of this hit Australian musical.


SGD on KHITS Jingle Ball!

What does Mike Posner, Natasha Bedingfield, Hanson, Far East Movement, and Stars Go Dim all have in common? They are all playing the 106.9 KHITS Jingle Ball in Tulsa, OK on December 18th, 2010! Get your tickets now!


This week's episode features rock bands in the Beijing underground, my nod to the city for being my second best audience market in Asia. I had no idea the city's scene was so hot. Anyway, this pic is from the website for a documentary about the chinese music underground, by George Lindt and Susanne Messmer.

"Beijing Bubbles - Punk and Rock in China's Capital"


Volcanoes Have Shifted Asian Rainfall

Scientists have long known that large volcanic explosions can affect the weather by spewing particles that block solar energy and cool the air. Some suspect that extended “volcanic winters” from gigantic blowups helped kill off dinosaurs and Neanderthals. In the summer following Indonesia’s 1815 Tambora eruption, frost wrecked crops as far off as New England, and the 1991 blowout of the Philippines’ Mount Pinatubo lowered average global temperatures by 0.7 degrees F — enough to mask the effects of manmade greenhouse gases for a year or so.

Now, scientists have shown that eruptions also affect rainfall over the Asian monsoon region, where seasonal storms water crops for nearly half of earth’s population. Tree-ring researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory showed that big eruptions tend to dry up much of central Asia, but bring more rain to southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar — the opposite of what many climate models predict. Their paper appears in an advance online version of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The growth rings of some tree species can be correlated with rainfall, and the observatory’s Tree Ring Lab used rings from some 300 sites across Asia to measure the effects of 54 eruptions going back about 800 years. The data came from Lamont’s new 1,000-year tree-ring atlas of Asian weather, which has already produced evidence of long, devastating droughts; the researchers also have done a prior study of volcanic cooling in the tropics. “We might think of the study of the solid earth and the atmosphere as two different things, but really everything in the system is interconnected,” said Kevin Anchukaitis, the study’s lead author. “Volcanoes can be important players in climate over time.”

Large explosive eruptions send up sulfur compounds that turn into tiny sulfate particles high into the atmosphere, where they deflect solar radiation. Resulting cooling on earth’s surface can last for months or years. (Not all eruptions will do it; for instance, the continuing eruption of Indonesia’s Merapi this fall has killed dozens, but this latest episode is probably not big enough by itself to effect large-scale weather changes.) As for rainfall, in the simplest models, lowered temperatures decrease evaporation of water from the surface into the air; and less water vapor translates to less rain. But matters are greatly complicated by atmospheric circulation patterns, cyclic changes in temperatures over the oceans, and the shapes of land masses. Up to now, most climate models incorporating known forces such as changes in the sun and atmosphere have predicted that volcanic explosions would disrupt the monsoon by bringing less rain to southeast Asia–but the researchers found the opposite.

The researchers studied eruptions including one in 1258 from an unknown tropical site, thought to be the largest of the last millennium; the 1600-1601 eruption of Peru’s Huaynaputina; Tambora in 1815; the 1883 explosion of Indonesia’s Krakatau; Mexico’s El Chichón, in 1982; and Pinatubo. The tree rings showed that huge swaths of southern China, Mongolia and surrounding areas consistently dried up in the year or two following big events, while mainland southeast Asia got increased rain. The researchers say there are many possible factors involved, and it would speculative at this point to say exactly why it works this way.

“The data only recently became available to test the models,” said Rosanne D’Arrigo, one of the study’s coauthors. “Now, it’s obvious there’s a lot of work to be done to understand how all these different forces interact.” For instance, in some episodes pinpointed by the study, it appears that strong cycles of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which drives temperatures over the Pacific and Indian oceans and is thought to strongly affect the Asian monsoon, might have counteracted eruptions, lessening their drying or moistening effects. But it could work the other way, too, said Anchukaitis; if atmospheric dynamics and volcanic eruptions come together with the right timing, they could reinforce one another, with drastic results. “Then you get flooding or drought, and neither flooding nor drought is good for the people living in those regions,” he said. The study also raises questions whether proposed “geoengineering” schemes to counteract manmade climate change with huge artificial releases of volcanism-like particles might have complex unintended consequences.

Ultimately, said Anchukaitis, such studies should help scientists refine models of how natural and manmade forces might act together to in the future to shift weather patterns — a vital question for all areas of the world.

Genetic Secret to AIDS Immunity Discovered

As long as HIV and AIDS have existed, there has been a small minority who have contracted the virus, but not the disease. Their bodies are somehow able to control HIV, making them less contagious and immune to AIDS symptoms, sometimes forever. A new genomic study of nearly 1,000 of these people, known as “HIV controllers,” has found the genetic reason behind this.

The researchers examined the DNA of 974 controllers and, by performing a genome-wide association analysis, compared it with DNA from 2,648 patients whose disease has progressed.

“Of the three billion nucleotides in the human genome, it really comes down to just a handful that relate to a particular function of the immune system that makes the difference,” says Bruce Walker, a virologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and one of the two lead researchers on the study, published online today by the journal Science.

These nucleotides, or pieces of genetic material, are located at a genomic region that encodes proteins needed for immunity—an obvious spot that had been considered before by researchers. But because virtually all of the differences found between HIV controllers and those whose disease had progressed were in this area, scientists can now better target their research.

“There have been lots of theories that these controllers might be manifestations of multiple mechanisms,” says Warner Greene, director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the research. “This tends to focus the field.”

The study identified differences in a region of chromosome 6, where there are genes that control a key part of the immune system called the human leukocyte antigen, which is a molecule on the surface of a cell. When that molecule holds a bit of a virus, it’s a signal to other cells that the cell is infected and needs to be destroyed. Depending on the amino acids present in the molecule, the part of a virus that is held will be slightly different, and that’s what makes the difference for someone who is an HIV controller.

It’s much too early, Walker and Greene both say, to use this information to design a drug or vaccine for HIV, but it is a step in that direction.

“I think this gives us really important insights into the type of reactions that occur during the immune response that lead to high-level control of HIV,” Greene says. “If we had a vaccine that would make everybody a controller—that would be spectacular.”

Roughly one in 300 people who test positive for HIV are controllers, Walker says. The immune systems of these people maintain fewer than 2,000 RNA copies of the virus per milliliter of blood plasma. Most people with HIV carry a viral load of hundreds of thousands to five million copies per milliliter, depending on the stage of infection.

The study’s other lead author, Paul de Bakker, an assistant professor at Brigham & Woman’s Hospital and an associate member of the Broad Institute, says he next wants to look for rare gene variants that might also help explain why some people’s immune systems are better able to control HIV.

Stanford Students Design Recyclable Laptop That Disassembles In Just 2 Minutes

A pioneering prototype of the recyclable Bloom laptop developed by Stanford students allowed them to become the Autodesk Inventor of the Month for October. The class of Stanford University graduate students along with students from Finland’s Aalto University was asked to develop a recyclable consumer electronics product that makes electronics recycling a simpler, more effective and engaging process for consumers. The refined and readily accessible laptop design is a result of 3D digital prototypes of the laptop’s hardware components, Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Publisher software.

Unlike other laptops available today that take about 45 minutes to disassemble, the Bloom laptop can be disassembled in just 10 steps within two minutes, without using any tools. It modular design makes it easy for consumers to decrease the amount of electronic waste added to landfills. Since it is easy to disassemble, the laptop can easily be repaired or upgraded, building a long-term relationship with the user.

China’s Chery Auto Launches Its First Electric Vehicle

Chinese car manufacturer Chery Automobiles Company has been quite regular in unveiling concept electric cars, but didn’t launch these electric vehicles. The trend has now changed with the company launching its first battery-powered car, the Ruilin M1. The Ruilin M1 was launched at the 25th World Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition held in Shezhen, China.

Powered by a lithium-ion phosphate battery pack, the EV has a top speed of about 75mph and can run for 93 miles on a single charge. Presently the company hasn’t revealed any information about the price of the vehicle and its full technical specifications. In addition to the Ruilin M1, the company also rolled out four other electric concept vehicles that include the Ruilin X1, Chery A5, Ruilin G5 and another M1 model.

Sundown Lounge No. 233


Chicago Litzine from Anti-Art City Hall
"The Last War Crime" by The Peace Team
Don't Wait Animate
2010 Podcast Awards - Time To Nominate!



Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Launches ChicagoPublishes

"Yes, it’s true. Chicago as a city is home to some of the finest artists in this country. Ah, but the City of Chicago itself--yeegads--it has a horrendous reputation for being anti-art. Many of us who were part of the poetry scene in the early 1990s can still remember when this city tried to shut down the Weeds open mic. because Gregorio Gomez didn’t have a “poetry permit.” In May of 2003, the Hot House (then on Balboa) featured a band that they shipped in from Cuba, and the City of Chicago raided the joint and closed it down, a few minutes before the show was to begin. In July of 2007, the Chicago police swarmed into the Zhou B. Art Center and kicked everyone out of the annual Printers Ball. In May of 2009, the city’s graffiti blasters trespassed on private property and painted over a gigantic piece of mural art that had been commissioned and paid for, because some bigoted Bridgeport alderman didn’t like it. And in December of 2009, a man named Chris Drew was arrested for attempting to sell one dollar pieces of art on State Street, and subsequently he was charged with a felony for audio taping his own arrest; this Chicago artist could spend a decade in prison and that’s how much the city really supports the arts!

Stories like these go on and on with no end in sight. They illustrate this city’s underlying hostility toward the art scene. The art scene scares the shit out of the City of Chicago. It’s not good for tourism. It’s not good for Olympic bids and whatnot. In fact, the city wants to establish something called a “promoter’s license” that would make it illegal for an unlicensed individual to host a literary event if there are more than 50 audience members in attendance. So! When the City of Chicago announces it “will provide Chicago’s thriving publishing industry with a new website” (as if we don’t already have dozens upon dozens of our own websites)--called (a name very similar to the already existing me if I must take the news with a huge block of salt.

On Tuesday, November 9, 2010, the Chicago Cultural Center will launch its new website, with an event to be held at 4 PM. Of course, most of you will be in work at that time, but it’s the thought that counts, right? The event will feature The Paper Machete, hosted by Jonathan Messinger of TimeOut Chicago. There will be tea. The event will also serve as the launch party for a new section of the already existing city sponsored website “CAR-Literary” promises to include job postings, calls for submissions, links to resources, articles, essays and even a forum for “open” dialogue. Wow. This all sounds like your birthday has come early, doesn‘t it. But hold the phone for a minute. Let’s not forget that all of this razzle-dazzle is going to be published and edited by (drum roll please)--the government. In case it matters to you, that's the same government that is trying to throw Chris Drew in prison for attempting to sell a one dollar piece of art on State Street. If anyone is expecting anything more daring than, say, Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine, they are deluding themselves..." - Click the pic to read the rest of CJ Laity's rant


"The Last War Crime" by The Peace Team

We are about to go into production of a new full length feature motion picture, "The Last War Crime", the story of war crimes and fraudulent war based on false confessions obtained by torture. And to pique your interest, here is the script for the first 26 pages of the full script, through to the first part of the dramatic waterboarding scene. []

And you can be part of helping to make this epic production a reality, the story culminating in a heroic mission to indict the former Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. Make a donation of any amount, and we will send you one of the new "Last War Crime" caps, or help yourself to any of our other progressive policy gifts:

The Last War Crime cap NEW!
Stop The Filibuster cap
Global Warming "350 ppm" cap
"It's Up To Us Alone" radio play CD
"Single Payer Health Care" Cap
Bush/Cheney Impeachment Play DVD
That's OK, I just want to support the work


Don't Wait Animate

We’re back. After a long and arduous Summer of recording new material and honing our live performance we felt it was the right time to come out of our Summer retreat.

The recording process can be accurately described thusly: a deep existential experience with tendencies for narcotic dependency and involuntary narcissism coupled with heavy self loathing all to the soundtrack of distorted flutes, offbeat orchestral symphonies, dub bass-licks, horns of death and wild tribal drums.

To celebrate this we have uploaded new tracks onto our myspace, check it out and leave a comment if you like. News on our next single will be coming soon, for release in 2011.

Asides from recording enough new material to fill 5 albums spanning multifarious genres that cover anything from acid jazz to spaghetti western soundtrack we also hosted and DJ’d at 'Where’s Maggie?' along with These New Puritans @ the Amersham Arms. Thanks again for all those that could make it! We're throwing a follow-up house party next Friday, 05th November called ‘Reason for Treason’ so keep that day free in your diary.

There'll be live music from Jukebox Collective, Edit/Select, and Don't Wait Animate, naturally, and tons of live DJ sets and of course plenty of fire power.

Entry is free and only through RSVP so get reserving below.

Exciting don’t you think?

As a little taster we've got a free download available for your listening pleasure made up of the tracks that we’ve been playing on our portable audio devices. Hope you like!


2010 Podcast Awards

With election 2010 complete and all the rejoicing and bemoaning quieting ever so slightly, it’s time to turn to yet another opportunity to make your voice heard. The 2010 Podcast Awards, sponsored in partnership with Blubrry, is kicking off in a few days. Nominations for this important annual competition open Sunday, Nov. 7, and continue through 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, Nov. 21. That’s two weeks to get your favorites collected and submitted.

Check out all the nomination rules and info you need to know here.

What comes next? After the nomination period closes, Podcast Connect and its volunteer reviewers will take approximately 10-14 days to review all of the nominations. Nominated podcasts will be graded on:

* Number of Nominations 40%
* Quality of Website Design 15%
* Quality of Sound / Video 15%
* Quality of Podcast Delivery and Show Format 10%
* Relevance of Content 20%

Once the top 10 nominees in each category are selected by the review committee and added to the website, voting will commence. So get your favorites noticed right off the bat by getting involved in the nomination process!


U.S. Researcher Claims Dream Recording Device Possible

Writing in the journal Nature, researchers said they have developed a system capable of recording higher-level brain activity. “We would like to read people’s dreams,” says the lead scientist Dr Moran Cerf.

The aim is not to interlope, but to extend our understanding of how and why people dream.

For centuries, people have been fascinated by dreams and what they might mean; in ancient Egypt for example, they were thought to be messages from the gods.

More recently, dream analysis has been used by psychologists as a tool to understand the unconscious mind. But the only way to interpret dreams was to ask people about the subject of their dreams after they had woken up.

The eventual aim of Dr Cerf’s project is to develop a system that would enable psychologists to corroborate people’s recollections of their dream with an electronic visualisation of their brain activity.

“There’s no clear answer as to why humans dream,” according to Dr Cerf. “And one of the questions we would like to answer is when do we actually create this dream?”

Dr Cerf makes his bold claim based on an initial study that he says suggests that the activity of individual brain cells, or neurons, are associated with specific objects or concepts. He found, for example, that when a volunteer was thinking of Marilyn Monroe, a particular neuron lit up.

By showing volunteers a series of images, Dr Cerf and his colleagues were able to identify neurons for a wide range of objects and concepts – which they used to build up a database for each patient. These included Bill and Hilary Clinton, the Eiffel Tower and celebrities.

So by observing which brain cell lit up and when, Dr Cerf says he was effectively able to “read the subjects’ minds”.

He admits that there is a very long way to go before this simple observation can be translated into a device to record dreams – a “dream catcher”. But he thinks it is a possibility – and he said he would like to try.

The next stage is to monitor the brain activity of the volunteers when they are sleeping.

The researchers will only be able to identify images or concepts that correlate with those stored on their database. But this data base could in theory be built up – by for example monitoring neuronal activity while the volunteer is watching a film.

Dr Roderick Oner, a clinical psychologist and dream expert, believes that while this kind of limited visualisation might be of academic interest, it will not really help in the interpretation of dreams or be of use in therapy.

“For that you need the entire complex dream narrative,” he said.

Another difficulty with the technique is that to get the kind of resolution needed to monitor individual neurons, subjects had to have electrodes surgically implanted deep inside their brain.

In the Nature study, the researchers obtained their results by studying patients who had electrodes implanted to monitor and treat them for brain seizures.

But Dr Cerf believes that sensor technology is developing at such a pace that eventually it might be possible to monitor brain activity in this way without invasive surgery. If this were to happen it would open up a range of possibilities.

“It would be wonderful to read people’s minds where they cannot communicate, such as people in comas,” said Dr Cerf.

There have been attempts to create machine interfaces before that aim to translate thoughts into instructions to control computers or machines.

But in the main these have tried to tap into areas of the brain involved in controlling movement. Dr Cerf’s system monitors higher level areas of the brain and can potentially identify abstract concepts.

“We can sail with our imaginations and think about all the things we could do if we had access to a person’s brain and basically visualise their thoughts.

“For example, instead of just having to write an email you could just think it. Or another futuristic application would be to think a flow of information and have it written in front of your eyes.”

Professor Colin Blakemore, a neuroscientist at Oxford University, believes that it is quite a jump from the limited results obtained in the study to talking about recording dreams.

New Super Hero Style Spacesuits Simulates the Effects of Gravity on the Body

This new Spiderman-style spacesuit may not win astronauts a spot in the fashion hall of fame, but it could help keep their bones intact during long spaceflights.

Described in a new paper, prototype tests of the Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit, being developed by a research team at MIT’s Man-Vehicle Laboratory, show that the suit simulates the effects of gravity on the human body, which could solve one of the biggest obstacles to future human space travel.

Astronauts lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass for each month they spend in space. As far back as the Gemini missions, conditioning exercise regimes have been used to slow the rate of bone loss, but a 2001-2004 NASA-sponsored study showed that crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) were still losing up to 2.7 percent of their interior bone material and 1.7 percent of outer hipbone material for each month they spent in space. If ISS crew members lose this much bone density after 4 to 6 months in space, astronauts on long missions to Mars-voyages that could take years-could lose enough bone mass that they suffer fractures while carrying out tasks on the Martian surface.

With stirrups that loop around the feet, the elastic gravity skinsuit is purposely cut too short for the astronaut so that it stretches when put on-pulling the wearer’s shoulders towards the feet. In normal gravity conditions on Earth, a human’s legs bear more weight than the torso. Because the suit’s legs stretch more than the torso section, the wearer’s legs are subjected to a greater force-replicating gravity effects on Earth.

The prototype suit testing took place on parabolic flights that created brief periods of weightlessness. Results showed that the suit successfully imitated the pull of gravity on the torso and thighs, but it did not exert enough force on the lower legs. Researchers are now refining the suit’s design to address this; they also plan to test the suit to see how it performs when worn overnight. Volunteers who wore the suit on the test flights reported that the suit was comfortable and did not significantly restrict movement, which means crewmembers can work and exercise while wearing the suit.

An article on the study will be published in the journal Acta Astronautica.

Virus Breakthrough Could Mean a Cure for the Common Cold

Scientists say they have made a landmark discovery which could pave the way for new drugs to beat illnesses like the common cold. Until now experts had thought that antibodies could only tackle viral infections by blocking or attacking viruses outside cells.

But work done by the Medical Research Council shows antibodies can pass into cells and fight viruses from within.

PNAS journal said the finding held promise for a new antiviral drugs.

The Cambridge scientists stressed that it would take years of work and testing to find new therapies, and said that the pathway they had discovered would not work on all viruses.

Fighting viruses

Some antiviral drugs are already available to help treat certain conditions, like HIV.

But viruses remain mankind’s biggest killer, responsible for twice as many deaths each year as cancer, and are among the hardest of all diseases to treat.

The new discovery by Dr Leo James and colleagues transforms the previous scientific understanding of our immunity to viral diseases like the common cold, ‘winter vomiting’ and gastroenteritis.

It shows that antibodies can enter cells and that once inside, they then trigger a response, led by a protein called TRIM21.

This protein pulls the virus into a disposal system used by the cell to get rid of unwanted material.

The researchers found this process happens quickly, usually before most viruses have chance to harm the cell.

And they discovered that increasing the amount of TRIM21 protein in cells makes this process even more effective, suggesting new ways of making better antiviral drugs.

Dr James said: “Doctors have plenty of antibiotics to fight bacterial infections but few antiviral drugs.

“Although these are early days, and we don’t yet know whether all viruses are cleared by this mechanism, we are excited that our discoveries may open multiple avenues for developing new antiviral drugs.”

Sir Greg Winter, deputy director of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, said: “This research is not only a leap in our understanding of how and where antibodies work, but more generally in our understanding of immunity and infection.”

Eye Implant Developed That Allows Blind to See Shapes and Objects

Scientists have developed an eye implant that allowed three blind patients to see shapes and objects within days of treatment in a trial and say the device could become routine for some kinds of blindness in five years.

Experts described the study results as phenomenal and said the device, developed by German researchers, could eventually change the lives of up to 200,000 people worldwide who suffer from blindness due to a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa.

The device — known as a sub-retinal implant — sits underneath the retina and works by directly replacing light receptors that are lost as a result of the disease.

After the light detection stage, it uses the eye’s natural image-processing functions to produce a stable visual image.

Eberhart Zrenner, chairman of the University of Tuebingen Eye Hospital in Germany and director of a small company called Retinal Implant AG which is developing the device, said the trial results were a “proof of concept” and would now be taken into further trials in around 25 to 50 patients in Europe.

“We have shown that people can be provided with enough useful vision for daily life,” he said in a telephone interview.

According to the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, one blind patient who had the device implanted was able to identify and find objects placed on a table in front of him, and was able to walk around a room independently.

He could even read a clock face and differentiate between seven shades of grey, the researchers said. Tests were conducted starting from seven to nine days after the device was implanted.

The implant device, which sits completely within the eye, is a tiny plate, measuring just 3 mm squared and a 10th of a millimeter thick, which has around 1,500 tiny light sensors connected to amplifiers and electrodes.

Other types of retinal implants, known as epiretinal implants, sit outside the retina and because they bypass the intact light-sensitive structures in the eyes they require the patient to wear an external camera and processor unit.

Robert Maclaren, a professor of Ophthalmology at Britain’s Oxford University and a consultant retinal surgeon at the Oxford Eye Hospital, who was not involved in this trial, said he was “very excited” by Zrenner’s results.

“It proves the concept that in a patient who has been blind for many years and is unable to see anything, the optic nerves can be re-awakened for them to be able to see again. It’s of phenomenal significance in that regard,” he told Reuters.

“To go from being completely blind for many years, to being able to read a few letters and see shapes is an amazing step.”

Retinitis pigmentosa in a genetic eye condition that leads to blindness and affects about 1 in 4,000 people worldwide.

Zrenner said further trials of the implant should be completed in two to three years and if those proved successful the device could be on the market and available for thousands of patients in about five years’ time.

He was cautious about possible wider applications, but said that if it was developed further, the device may someday be used to help people with severe cases of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people.

Sundown Lounge No. 232


Wayout Hotels


I got a tourism plugger from Wayout Hotels in Portugal, featuring a lovely collection of resorts, apartments and villas throught the country. Now, the plugger is in Portuguese, but the website has a translator, so if you're one of my listeners in western Europe, or gonna be in country, check it out...


Scientists Develop a $1.50 Lens-Free Microscope

Using a $1.50 digital camera sensor, scientists at Caltech have created the simplest and cheapest lens-free microscope yet. Such a device could have many applications, including helping diagnose disease in the developing world, and enabling rapid screening of new drugs.

The best current way to diagnose malaria is for a skilled technician to examine blood samples using a conventional optical microscope. But this is impractical in parts of the world where malaria is common. A simple lens-free imaging device connected to a smart phone or a PDA could automatically diagnose disease. A lensless microscope could also be used for rapid cancer or drug screening, with dozens or hundreds of microscopes working simultaneously.

The Caltech device is remarkably simple. A system of microscopic channels called microfluidics lead a sample across the light-sensing chip, which snaps images in rapid succession as the sample passes across. Unlike previous iterations, there are no other parts. Earlier versions featured pinhole apertures and an electrokinetic drive for moving cells in a fixed orientation with an electric field. In the new device, this complexity is eliminated thanks to a clever design and more sophisticated software algorithms. Samples flow through the channel because of a tiny difference in pressure from one end of the chip to the other. The device’s makers call it a subpixel resolving optofluidic microscope, or SROFM.

“The advantage here is that it’s simpler than their previous approaches,” says David Erickson, a microfluidics expert at Cornell University.

Cells tend to roll end over end as they pass through a microfluidic channel. The new device uses this behavior to its advantage by capturing images and producing a video. By imaging a cell from every angle, a clinician can determine its volume, which can be useful when looking for cancer cells, for example. Changhuei Yang, who leads the lab where the microscope was developed, says this means samples, such as blood, do not have to be prepared on slides beforehand.

The current resolution of the SROFM is 0.75 microns, which is comparable to a light microscope at 20 times magnification, says Guoan Zheng, lead author of a recent paper on the work, published in the journal Lab on a Chip.

The sensor has pixels that are 0.32 microns on each side, so this resolution was only possible using a “super resolution” algorithm, which assembles multiple images–50 for each high-resolution image– to create an enhanced resolution image. However, super-resolution techniques can only distinguish features that are separated by at least one pixel, meaning the final resolution must be at least twice the pixel size. This is why a .32 micron pixel size yields only a resolution of .75 microns.

Zheng’s technique uses only a small portion of the chip, allowing him to capture cells at a relatively high frame rate of 300 frames per second. This yields a super-resolution “movie” of a cells at six frames per second.

Using a higher-resolution CMOS sensor should allow an even better ultimate resolution, says Seung Ah Lee, another collaborator on the project. Lee wants to get the resolution up to the equivalent of 40x magnification, so that the technique can be used for diagnosis of malaria via automated recognition of abnormal blood cells.

Aydogan Ozcan, a professor at UCLA who is developing a competing approach, says that Zheng’s work is “a valuable advance for optofluidic microscopy,” in that this system is simpler, offers higher resolution, and is easier to use than previous microscopes. However, Ozcan says that the technique has limitations.

The microfluidic channel must be quite small, says Ozcan, which means the approach can’t be applied to particles that might vary greatly in size, and the channel must be built to accommodate the largest particle that might flow through it. Ozcan’s own lensless microscope does not use microfluidic channels, and instead captures a “hologram” of the sample by interpreting the interference pattern of an LED lamp shining through it. This method has no such limitations.

“From my perspective, these are complementary approaches,” says Ozcan, whose ultimate aim is cheap, cell-phone based medical diagnostic tools for the developing world.

Young Inventor Honored by Nobel Winners for Solar-Powered Fridge

Emily Cummins, a 23-year-old British inventor, has become the only female to be honored by Nobel Prize winners in an international ceremony. Emily, a Leeds University Graduate, was named among the 10 most outstanding young people in the world and is receiving honors for a couple of inventions that includes a solar-powered fridge and a water carrying device that have been designed to be used in Africa.

The solar-powered fridge, which was designed by Emily in school, works on the principles of evaporation. The system features two cylinders – one inside the other. The inner cylinder is made from metal but the outer one can be made from wood or plastic. The gap between the inner and the outer cylinders is filled with a material such as sand or soil, which can be soaked with water. The outer cylinder has holes drilled in the side, which allow the sun’s rays to heat the wet material causing water to evaporate.

As water evaporates heat is removed from the inner cylinder, keeping the contents at a cool temperature of 6 degrees Celsius. Re-soaking the material with water will keep the fridge working.

Blest Machine: Convert Plastic Trash into Usable Oil at Home

Every home faces the problem of plastic waste and taking it to the recycling center each time is not very feasible. In an attempt to address the issue of plastic waste, Akinori Ito has designed an ingenious machine that converts plastic waste back into usable oil. Christened the “Blest machine”, this safe, clean and most user-friendly machine make use of a temperature-controlling electric heater to bid goodbye to the plastic, making the planet a better place to live.

The compact Blest machine uses an electric heater and melts the plastic without releasing CO2 or other toxins. The fuel produced from the plastic conversion process can be put to use immediately for stoves and generators, or can be further refined to be used as gasoline to power vehicles. The machine not only allows the users to convert their everyday waste into something more meaningful, but also encourages people to take up green practices like recycling, diverting waste from landfills. Akinori’s present tabletop model is available for $9,500 and is capable of converting one kilo of plastic into one liter of oil.

Sundown Lounge No. 231


Muzzle Online Zine
Latest Orion Reviews on


Muzzle Online Zine

"...Muzzle is intentionally focusing on the performance poetry scene, effectively taking the foot of any person who claims performance poetry can't stand up on the page and firmly putting said foot in said person’s mouth, where as Letter eX ruthlessly showed no allegiance to any sect of the poetry scene, often harshly criticizing the slam and even members of its own staff. Muzzle exists in three sections: the “Poetry” section (no doubt the strongest of the sections and the reason Muzzle really exists), a nicely done “Art” section, and the soon to be notorious “Reviews and Interviews” section. It is undeniably the unique product of it’s eleven staff members' cooperation, led by Editor in Chief Stevie Edwards..."

- CJ Laity,


Latest Orion Reviews of new writers on

Critiques for the highest rated opening chapters & short stories of budding authors on by Terry Pratchett publisher Orion can be viewed by clicking the link below. Orion are the publisher of some of the world’s bestselling authors, such as Ian Rankin and Terry Pratchett. Each month on YouWriteOn editors from Orion provide feedback for highly rated YouWriteOn Top Ten writers. Thank you to everyone for your stories.

In 2009 Orion critiqued The Legacy's opening chapters on, and subsequently offered the author a two book deal which led to the author becoming a bestseller after being chosen for this summer's TV Book Club, including becoming a top 3 novel on Amazon this year. YouWriteOn's Book of the Year this year - The Apothecary's Daughter - will be published by Little Brown in 2011 after a literary agent viewed the opening chapters on, Little Brown publish authors such as Stephenie Meyer and Alexander McCall Smith.

Click here to view the latest Orion critiques. These can also be viewed by visiting directly.


Making a Baby in Space Could be Dangerous

Any future astronauts here who are hoping to make the first space baby might want to think again – embryonic stem cells don’t act the same way in zero gravity, making successful procreation in space almost impossible.

We already know that full-grown adults suffer harmful consequences the longer they stay in microgravity, as prolonged living in zero-G causes muscles and bones to weaken and an irregular heartbeat. But the dangers also operate on much tinier scales as well, as a team of Australian researchers have now discovered. Microgravity tampers with stem cells, the building blocks of all other cells in our body and a vital repair system.

The researchers simulated zero-G conditions on Earth and then placed embryonic stem cells inside. They discovered that 64 percent of the stem cell proteins were fundamentally different from how they would be in normal gravity. And the changes weren’t good – most of the altered proteins would weaken bones and allow increased oxidative damage to DNA. Damage was also done to proteins involved with the immune system, proper cell division, calcium levels, and much more.

Tissue engineer and lead researcher Helder Marcal says this is bad news for procreation in space:

“The simulated microgravity experiments we are investigating don’t seem to suggest a very positive outcome. The effect that microgravity may have on a growing embryo or fetus would be similar to an adult body – however, much more detrimental. The adult body can adapt to some microgravity space environments – however, what remains totally unknown is if an embryo can adapt to such an environment too.”

Still, now that we know the problems, we have a chance to solve them. Marcal says that gravity is somehow responsible for a vital part of the body’s mechanical or circulatory feedback, which help keep bones and blood vessels healthy. If we can isolate exactly what gravity does, it may be possible to genetically engineer something that can substitute for the lack of gravity.

And that’s a good thing for future space babies, because Marcal considers them a matter of when, not if:

“Human procreation in space is inevitable, I believe. Therapeutic and pharmaceutical intervention may not be the optimum outcome. Humans may have to consider that in the not so distant future, genetic engineering our bodies may be the way forward if we are to explore planets in our solar system. However, this raises other ethical and moral issues.”

Windstalk – Wind Farm Without the Turbines

Wind turbines are an increasingly popular way to generate clean energy with large-scale wind farms springing up all over the world. However, many residents near proposed wind farm sites have raised concerns over the aesthetics and the low frequency vibrations they claim are generated by wind turbines. An interesting Windstalk concept devised by New York design firm Atelier DNA could overcome both these problems while still allowing a comparable amount of electricity to be generated by the wind.

Devised as a potential clean energy generation project/tourist attraction for Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, the Windstalk concept consists of 1,203 carbon fiber reinforced resin poles, which stand 55 meters (180 feet) high and are anchored to the ground in concrete bases that range between 10 and 20 meters (33-66 ft) in diameter. The poles, which measure 30cm (12 in.) in diameter at the base, tapering up to a diameter of 5cm (2 in.) at the top, are packed with a stack of piezoelectric ceramic discs. Between the discs are electrodes that are connected by cables that run the length of each pole – one cable connects the even electrodes, while another connects the odd ones.

So, instead of relying on the wind to turn a turbine to generate electricity, when the pole sways in the wind, the stack of piezoelectric discs are compressed, generating a current through the electrodes. In a nice visual way to indicate how much – if any – power the poles are generating, the top 50cm (20 in.) of each pole is fitted with an LED lamp that glows and dims relative to the amount of power. So when the wind stops, the LED’s go dark.

As a way to maximize the amount of electricity the Windstalk farm would generate, the concept also places a torque generator within the concrete base of each pole. As the poles sway, fluid is forced through the cylinders of an array of current generating shock absorbers to convert the kinetic energy of the swaying poles into electrical energy.

Because the electricity generation capabilities of a Windstalk field site would depend on the wind, the designers have devised a way to store the energy. Below the field of poles would be two large chambers located on top of each other and shaped like the bases of the poles but inverted, (see the cross section image of the pole base section below). When the wind is blowing, part of the electricity generated is used to power a set of pumps that moves water from the lower chamber to the upper one. Then, when the wind dies down, the water flows from the upper chamber down to the lower chamber, turning the pumps into generators.

The WIndstalk project is still only a concept, so the designers haven’t determined the optimal shape for the stalks, saying computer simulations could be used to devise the best profile for maximizing the pole’s movement and variation. Even so, the design team estimates that the overall electricity output of the concept would be comparable to that of a conventional wind turbine array because, even though a single wind turbine that is limited to the same height as the poles may produce more energy than a single Windstalk, the Windstalks can be packed in much denser arrays.

The Atelier DNA Windstalk concept took out second prize in the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) competition this year that asked entrants to “design a series of land/environmental art installations that uniquely combine aesthetic intrigue and artistic concept with clean energy generation.”

Benoit Mandelbrot, RIP

Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry, has died. He was 85.

“Fractal geometry is not just a chapter of mathematics, but one that helps Everyman to see the same world differently.” – Benoit Mandelbrot (1924-2010)

The world is mourning the loss of the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who may have established a record by earning tenure at Yale in 1999, 75 years after his birth.

What took so long, given that his 1982 book The Fractal Geometry of Nature had become one of his field’s most influential works? Flying in the face of the Establishment with unconventional ideas and methods, creating what the historian and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift, is highly esteemed in academia — until somebody actually does it.

According to the Times obituary, Mandelbrot described his own career between his prestigious early education and his ultimate university appointment as “a very crooked line,” like the irregular surfaces he studied. I’m no expert on Mandelbrot’s life or work, but it’s also worth considering that the opponents of mavericks also play a constructive part in their thinking, provoking them to better and sometimes even bolder ideas.

Benoit Mandelbrot

“Benoit Mandelbrot the Maverick, 1924-2010“ (The Atlantic)

Long Live Mandelbrot (Imaginary Foundation)

Cyriaks Tribute an Benoît B. Mandelbrot, R.I.P.

Sundown Lounge No. 230


Poetry Cram 10
Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Inductions
Detachments debut album
Derek Sivers Book Notes
Jamie Lynn Noon Award Nominee
Billy Schafer at Room 5 Lounge





CHICAGO (10/10/10)— Press is pleased to announce its intention to publish CRAM VOLUME 10: THE BEST OF 10, to be published in December 2010.. Each poet selected for inclusion in Cram 10 will receive five complimentary copies of the publication, which will be delivered by mail in time for holiday gift giving. Each selected poet will also be invited to read as part of an official release event in January 2011 (details to be announced), where the remaining copies of Cram 10 will be given away, free to attendees.

The Cram release events are always very exciting. Click here to check out some photos from the Cram 9 release reading and click here to check out some photos from the Cram 8 release reading.

Chicago Literary Hall Of Fames To Host First Induction Ceremony

My dear poets,

Whenever an association takes on the self-proclaimed task of developing a "hall of fame" and announces it's annual event is "the beginning of a Chicago tradition" before it even begins, by the way, with a $45 a ticket "Business Casual" event, my skeptical button gets pushed. But, as you probably know, my skeptical button gets pushed a lot and it's not that hard to push it, so let's pause and take a look at the facts on this one

The Chicago Writers Association, a not for profit that has been found on the web since March 2006 at, will hold its first "Induction Ceremony" for the "Chicago Literary Hall of Fame", on the evening of Saturday, November 20, 2010, from 6 to 10 PM, at Northeastern Illinois University Auditorium, 3701 N. Bryn Mawr Ave. There will be drinks and hor d'oeuvres at 6 PM followed by a 7 PM gala ceremony emceed by Rick Kogan and "artfully orchestrated by Marc Smith." Appearances and performances will also be made by Audrey Niffenegger, Stuart Dybek, Haki Madhubuti, Sara Paretsky, the Speak Easy Ensemble, the Neo-Futurists, members of Young Chicago Authors and an incredible line-up of others, including representatives from the Nelson Algren Committee. There will also be a post-ceremony reception featuring drinks and desserts. Okay, that does sound like a kick-ass evening. Tickets range from $35 to $65.


From Thisisnotanexit:

Detachments CD / Download

Detachments debut album is also out now. The first 1,000 are in a special card slipsleeve and then after that there are just standard CDs available. The album is gaining great reviews and is the culimination of alot of hard work. Do support us and buy a copy.



Holiday Romance 12" / Download

Holiday Romance - the latest single from Detachments is out now on limited edition pop art 12" (300 copies) and download. It features the album version of Holiday Romance as well as remixes from Cosmodelica (and features on Mighty Mouse's Disco Circus Volume 2) and Andy Blake (Dissident / Cave Paintings / World Unknown) who takes the track on a 17 minute analogue house journey. So good James Ford exclaimed it to be "brilliant" and the Slutty Fringe website called it the "remix of the year".

You can buy it at all good record shops including the Thisisnotanexit webstore.



As a treat you can download T&A's End of The Pier Remix of Holiday Romance here:

Also, there are still a few copies left of previous Detachments releases at the Thisisnotanexit webstore: The Flowers That Fell 7", Circles 7", HAL (Yellow Sleeve) 12" and Fear No Fear 12". We also have only 2 x t-shirts left in LARGE and XL so if you want one be quick!

Become a fan of Detachments for all the latest news and free stuff.


Derek Sivers Book Notes

Larry -

You might like some of the book notes I just posted:

Just click "my notes" for each, to see my detailed notes. I gave the ISBN number for each book to make it easy for you to find it at your local library or anywhere else.



I was excited to get news that "Like a Meteor" off my forthcoming release has been nominated in the 2010 Hollywood Music In Media Awards, and wanted to share with you... I really hope this finds you having an amazing year, and to be seeing you soon! :)




"Like a Meteor" - Hollywood Music In Media Award Nominee


The soon to be released "Like a Meteor" (written by Jamie Lynn Noon) has been nominated for a 2010 Hollywood Music In Media Award (HMMA).

This is Jamie's second HMMA nomination. In 2009, she earned a nomination for "Second of a Spark", the lead track on her debut release (A Moment to Break).

This year's Awards Event will take place on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at the Highlands in the Kodak Theater Complex in Hollywood, California.

The Hollywood Music in Media Awards recognizes and honors the music of visual mediums, the talented individuals responsible for creating and selecting it, and the music of both mainstream and independent artists from around the globe. HMMA is the first music awards event to recognize and honor excellence in music supervision and to place video games along side TV and film in terms of importance. Iconic artists will also be presented with a variety of awards, including an award for Outstanding Career Achievement in honor of their accomplishments and longevity in the entertainment field. The evening features live music performances, celebrity appearances, award presentations, an exclusive VIP reception, and a banquet dinner. The entire event will be shot with multiple HD cameras for digital and cable broadcasts in 17 countries and U.S. territories (120 Million households).


Jamie Lynn Noon


Wielding clever wordplay and infectious grooves, award-winning San Francisco singer/songwriter Billy Schafer will wage his “War on Gravity” tour at venues throughout Southern California starting October 15, 2010. Featuring songs from his “First to Believe” EP, the 10-day tour will find Schafer bringing his spirited pop-craft to notable venues including Room 5 in Los Angeles (October 16) and points in between, before landing at Yoshi’s Lounge in San Francisco, October 24, 2010 at 8pm.


October 16, 2010 - 8 PM


Room 5 Lounge

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Ticket price:


Minimum age:



Mystery of the Honeybees Solved

It has been one of the great murder mysteries of the garden: what is killing off the honeybees?

Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.

Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two.

A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One.

Exactly how that combination kills bees remains uncertain, the scientists said — a subject for the next round of research. But there are solid clues: both the virus and the fungus proliferate in cool, damp weather, and both do their dirty work in the bee gut, suggesting that insect nutrition is somehow compromised.

Liaisons between the military and academia are nothing new, of course. World War II, perhaps the most profound example, ended in an atomic strike on Japan in 1945 largely on the shoulders of scientist-soldiers in the Manhattan Project. And a group of scientists led by Jerry Bromenshenk of the University of Montana in Missoula has researched bee-related applications for the military in the past — developing, for example, a way to use honeybees in detecting land mines.

But researchers on both sides say that colony collapse may be the first time that the defense machinery of the post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security Department and academia have teamed up to address a problem that both sides say they might never have solved on their own.

“Together we could look at things nobody else was looking at,” said Colin Henderson, an associate professor at the University of Montana’s College of Technology and a member of Dr. Bromenshenk’s “Bee Alert” team.

Human nature and bee nature were interconnected in how the puzzle pieces came together. Two brothers helped foster communication across disciplines. A chance meeting and a saved business card proved pivotal. Even learning how to mash dead bees for analysis — a skill not taught at West Point — became a factor.

One perverse twist of colony collapse that has compounded the difficulty of solving it is that the bees do not just die — they fly off in every direction from the hive, then die alone and dispersed. That makes large numbers of bee autopsies — and yes, entomologists actually do those — problematic.

Dr. Bromenshenk’s team at the University of Montana and Montana State University in Bozeman, working with the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center northeast of Baltimore, said in their jointly written paper that the virus-fungus one-two punch was found in every killed colony the group studied. Neither agent alone seems able to devastate; together, the research suggests, they are 100 percent fatal.

“It’s chicken and egg in a sense — we don’t know which came first,” Dr. Bromenshenk said of the virus-fungus combo — nor is it clear, he added, whether one malady weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other’s destructive power. “They’re co-factors, that’s all we can say at the moment,” he said. “They’re both present in all these collapsed colonies.”

Research at the University of California, San Francisco, had already identified the fungus as part of the problem. And several RNA-based viruses had been detected as well. But the Army/Montana team, using a new software system developed by the military for analyzing proteins, uncovered a new DNA-based virus, and established a linkage to the fungus, called N. ceranae.

“Our mission is to have detection capability to protect the people in the field from anything biological,” said Charles H. Wick, a microbiologist at Edgewood. Bees, Dr. Wick said, proved to be a perfect opportunity to see what the Army’s analytic software tool could do. “We brought it to bear on this bee question, which is how we field-tested it,” he said.

The Army software system — an advance itself in the growing field of protein research, or proteomics — is designed to test and identify biological agents in circumstances where commanders might have no idea what sort of threat they face. The system searches out the unique proteins in a sample, then identifies a virus or other microscopic life form based on the proteins it is known to contain. The power of that idea in military or bee defense is immense, researchers say, in that it allows them to use what they already know to find something they did not even know they were looking for.

But it took a family connection — through David Wick, Charles’s brother — to really connect the dots. When colony collapse became news a few years ago, Mr. Wick, a tech entrepreneur who moved to Montana in the 1990s for the outdoor lifestyle, saw a television interview with Dr. Bromenshenk about bees.

Mr. Wick knew of his brother’s work in Maryland, and remembered meeting Dr. Bromenshenk at a business conference. A retained business card and a telephone call put the Army and the Bee Alert team buzzing around the same blossom.

The first steps were awkward, partly because the Army lab was not used to testing bees, or more specifically, to extracting bee proteins. “I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

The process eventually was refined. A mortar and pestle worked better than the desktop, and a coffee grinder worked best of all for making good bee paste.

Scientists in the project emphasize that their conclusions are not the final word. The pattern, they say, seems clear, but more research is needed to determine, for example, how further outbreaks might be prevented, and how much environmental factors like heat, cold or drought might play a role.

They said that combination attacks in nature, like the virus and fungus involved in bee deaths, are quite common, and that one answer in protecting bee colonies might be to focus on the fungus — controllable with antifungal agents — especially when the virus is detected.

Still unsolved is what makes the bees fly off into the wild yonder at the point of death. One theory, Dr. Bromenshenk said, is that the viral-fungal combination disrupts memory or navigating skills and the bees simply get lost. Another possibility, he said, is a kind of insect insanity.

In any event, the university’s bee operation itself proved vulnerable just last year, when nearly every bee disappeared over the course of the winter.

Special Door Serves As Earthquake Shelter

In anticipation of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake possibly hitting the city of Istanbul by 2030, an MA design student named Younghwa Lee from Kingston's University has designed a special kind of door that protects residents from falling quake debris. Designed to ensure safety and reduce injury or death, the door folds horizontally in the middle, while the bottom part remains braced against the floor for support.

The door frame has a built-in cabinet that contains a wind-up flashlight, containers of drinking water and medical supplies to ensure immediate medical aid before medics arrive in case of injury.

New Research Shows How the Prison-Poverty Cycle Creates ‘Toxic Persons’ Condemned to Failure

Forty years after the United States began its experimentation with mass incarceration policies, the country is increasingly divided economically. In new research published in the review Daedalus, a group of leading criminologists coordinated by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences argued that much of that growing inequality, which Slate’s Timothy Noah has chronicled, is linked to the increasingly widespread use of prisons and jails.

It’s well-known that the United States imprisons drastically more people than other Western countries. Here are the specifics: We now imprison more people in absolute numbers and per capita than any other country on earth. With 5 percent of the world population, the U.S. hosts upward of 20 percent of its prisoners. This is because the country’s incarceration rate has roughly quintupled since the early 1970s. About 2 million Americans currently live behind bars in jails, state prisons, and federal penitentiaries, and many millions more are on parole or probation or have been in the recent past. In 2008, as a part of an “American Exception” series exploring the U.S. criminal-justice system, New York Times reporter Adam Liptak pointed out that overseas criminologists were “mystified and appalled” by the scale of American incarceration. States like California now spend more on locking people up than on funding higher education.

In devastating detail in Daedalus, the sociologists Bruce Western of Harvard and Becky Pettit of the University of Washington have shown how poverty creates prisoners and how prisons in turn fuel poverty, not just for individuals but for entire demographic groups. Crunching the numbers, they concluded that once a person has been incarcerated, the experience limits their earning power and their ability to climb out of poverty even decades after their release. It’s a vicious feedback loop that is affecting an ever-greater percentage of the adult population and shredding part of the fabric of 21st-century American society.

In 1980, one in 10 black high-school dropouts were incarcerated. By 2008, that number was 37 percent. Western and Pettit calculated that if current incarceration trends hold, fully 68 percent of African-American male high school dropouts born from 1975 to 1979 (at the start of the upward trend in incarceration rates) will spend time living in prison at some point in their lives, as the chart below shows.

Then, given the staggering scale of black incarceration, the authors looked at the effect on employment data if prisoners were factored into the unemployment numbers generated by the government. Using that more realistic measure of unemployment, they found that fewer than 30 percent of black male high school dropouts are currently employed. Seventy percent are jobless. Those are the sorts of unemployment figures one associates with failed Third World states rather than the largest, wealthiest economy on earth. And they augur ill for long-term social stability.

It gets uglier. When high school dropouts buck the trend by coming out of prison and finding steady work, they overwhelmingly hit a dead end in terms of earnings. Western and Pettit found that after being out of prison for 20 years, less than one-quarter of ex-cons who haven’t finished high school were able to rise above the bottom 20 percent of income earners, a far lower percentage than for high-school dropouts who don’t go to prison. They conclude that the ex-cons end up passing on their economic handicap, and by extension the propensity of ending up behind bars, to their children and their children’s children in turn. As evidence, they cite recent surveys indicating children of prisoners are more likely to live in poverty, to end up on welfare, and to suffer the sorts of serious emotional problems that tend to make holding down jobs more difficult.

University of California at Berkeley professor of law Jonathan Simon writes that these men and women in many ways become the human equivalent of underwater homes bought with subprime mortgages—they are “toxic persons” in the way those homes have been defined as “toxic assets,” condemned to failure.

Last year, for the first time since 1972, the total number of people in prison in America declined. That’s a good thing. It suggests that legislators, along with the broader voting public, are finally waking up to the huge, and unsustainable, financial costs that states are absorbing by keeping large numbers of low-end offenders locked up. But the reasons for scaling back the prison system ought not to be framed solely as a cost-cutting measure that’s necessary but nasty. As this new research so clearly shows, locking up poor people in historically unprecedented numbers has undermined one of America’s most durable, and valuable, traits—social mobility.

Children at a Greater Risk of Mental Problems the Longer Their Screen Time

More than two hours a day spent watching television or playing computer games could put a child at greater risk for psychological problems, suggests a new study. British researchers found the effect held regardless of how active kids were during the rest of the day.

“We know that physical activity is good for both physical and mental health in children and there is some evidence that screen viewing is associated with negative behaviors,” lead researcher Dr. Angie Page of the University of Bristol told Reuters Health in an e-mail. “But it wasn’t clear whether having high physical activity levels would ‘compensate’ for high levels of screen viewing in children.”

Page and her colleagues studied more than 1,000 kids between the ages of 10 and 11. Over seven days, the children filled out a questionnaire reporting how much time they spent daily in front of a television or computer and answering questions describing their mental state — including emotional, behavioral, and peer-related problems. Meanwhile, an accelerometer measured their physical activity.

The odds of significant psychological difficulties were about 60 percent higher for children spending longer than two hours a day in front of either screen compared with kids exposed to less screen time, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. For children with more than two hours of both types of screen time during the day, the odds more than doubled.

The effect was seen regardless of sex, age, stage of puberty, or level of educational or economic deprivation.

Psychological problems further increased if kids fell short of an hour of moderate to rigorous daily exercise in addition to the increased screen time. However, physical activity did not appear to compensate for the psychological consequences of screen time.

The researchers also found that sedentary time itself was not related to mental wellbeing. “It seems more like what you are doing in that sedentary time that is important,” said Page, noting the lack of negative effect found for activities such as reading and doing homework.

Page and her team acknowledge several limitations in their study, including the potential for a kid to inaccurately recall his or her activities when filling out the questionnaire.

Dr. Thomas N. Robinson of the Stanford University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, said the new research was not enough to decipher whether the relationship between screen time and psychological wellbeing was truly cause-and-effect.

“They would have needed to do an experiment, a randomized controlled trial, to see whether limiting television or computer time improves psychological difficulties when compared to a control group that does not limit screen time,” he told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

Robinson noted that his own related research, conducted in this way, found that limiting screen time reduced weight gain, aggression and consumer behaviors in kids.

“There are already lots of reasons to reduce kids’ screen time and this is potentially another,” said Robinson. “In our studies we find that giving children a screen-time budget and helping them stick to that budget is the most effective way to reduce their television, video game, computer and other screen time, and to improve their health as a result.”

He usually aims for a budget of about an hour per day, or a reduction of at least 50 percent from a kid’s starting screen time.

“Parents as well as kids tell us that budgeting kids’ screen time has profound positive effects on their families’ lives,” added Robinson.

Sundown Lounge No. 229


BlogWorld & New Media Expo
Alice Peacock at the Mint in LA on Oct. 15th
2010 Halloween Harmony & Harvest Festival Cancelled
Support the Heartland Cafe


Oct. 14 - 16, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas


If you can't make it to BlogWorld & Social Media Business Summit this year, then we have an exciting update for you.

We've just announced VIRTUAL tickets!


We've gathered the world's leading blogging and social media experts, and now you can have their expertise "on demand."

You can now register for online access to recordings of over 100 sessions.

Yes, every keynote and every major session. "Attend" from the comfort of your home or office, and conveniently download to replay as often as you like. Yours to keep!

Membership lasts for a full 12 months so consume every tip, learning and insight at your leisure, as and when you have time.


As well as all of this great material, we have also put together an exclusive online forum, plus a private LinkedIn networking group where you can ask questions, network, and discuss the topics further.

Learn about blogging, podcasting, build your social media presence, and learn from other successful organizations about how they are growing their businesses online.

After you register, you'll have access to a private member area where you can start viewing every recording as it becomes available. View online in your browser with the handy player, download to your computer, or even take the sessions with you on your iPhone, iPad or media player!


As if that wasn't enough, right now we want to give you an even better deal.

You can get 50% off if you act now.

Blog on!

Chris Garrett
BlogWorld Community

PS. This offer is available until October 12th 2010 at midnight Pacific, so claim your spot before the deal expires ...


Media Contact:
917-751-2432 *


September 23, 2010 (New York, NY) It’s officially spring and Alice Peacock is set to hit the ground running with her new cd, “Love Remains” Producer Danny Myrick helps to set this disc apart from prior releases by giving it a ’70s, California-country sound not unlike that of Linda Ronstadt during her Stone Ponies phase. Her fourth release celebrates faith and human connection with buoyant, outwardly focused lyrics, feel-good guitar hooks and heartland grooves. The skilled ensemble that helped achieve this family-style hootenanny includes players who’ve worked with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Brooks & Dunn, LeAnn Rimes and Gretchen Wilson. Boston’s Weekly Dig weighs in; “On Love Remains, Peacock shows off her airtight songwriting chops, and proves she can dance back and forth around a hook.”

Working with co-writer/co-producer Danny Myrick – who, like Alice, is the child of a minister – Peacock found herself addressing issues of faith in myriad ways on Love Remains, on songs like the anthemic “If I Could Talk To God,” the rollicking “Real Life,” the expansive, gospel-inflected “Trying To Hold Back Time,” the punchy, resolute “Forgiveness,” the devastating, indelible “I Am Mary” and the timeless-sounding title track.

“Can music change the world?/Yeah, I think it can,” Peacock sings in “Forgiveness.” Love Remains is a testament to the transformative power of love, belief and song.





2010 Halloween Harmony & Harvest Festival Cancelled!

Hello Fellow Hemp and Cannabis Enthusiasts,

Bummer ;-((((

The International Holistic Health Cannabis Convention - 2010 Halloween Harmony & Harvest Festival has been cancelled.

May be re-scheduled for Summer/Fall next year!

Remember the new call in number and times for The Hemp Network conference calls:
(323) 843-0075 PIN: 339284# --
Mon 8pm PST - Tues & Wed 6pm PST - Sat 10am PST

Patrick Haueter
Toll Free: (866) 931-7784
Direct: (650) 241-0662
Cell: (650) 530-2092


Chi-Town Poetry News...

I hear a lot of poetry venues and poets are suffering loss because of the economy. Every time I turn around I hear of a venue closing or a poet losing funding. That's why it is important for poets to stick together and support each other even if we don't always see eye to eye. For example, recently the Outspoken Festival that was planned for September 25 was canceled because reportedly the grants for it didn't materialize. I think the worst of the horror stories that I've heard concerns a publish on demand queen who lost her book deal, lost her "official blog" status and lost her position on New City's Top 50 List; oh, but wait, that was due to her unneighborly attitude, so never mind. Well, anyway, here's your chance to help save one of Chicago's longest running poetry venues. On Tuesday, October 12, from 7 to 11 PM, you can help support the Heartland Cafe, 7000 N Glenwood, during a benefit there for only $10. From what I understand, it may be closing down if it doesn't get the support it needs, and that would be a true loss...


Just Because...

Human Trials to Begin for Cutting-Edge Suspended Animation Surgery

Surgeons are pioneering a method of inducing extreme hypothermia in trauma patients so that their bodies shut down entirely during major surgery, giving doctors more time to perform operations. Patients are to be placed into a state of suspended animation when they undergo surgery by using a ground breaking technique that freezes their bodies to the point of death.

The technique helps to reduce the damage done to the brain and other organs while the patient’s heart is not beating. It also reduces the need for anaesthetic and life support machines.

Researchers are now set to begin the first human trials of the technique, which involves replacing a patient’s blood with a cold solution to rapidly chill body temperatures.

The cold treatment, which is being developed at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and is featured in a BBC Two Horizon documentary, will see patient’s bodies being cooled to as low as 10 degrees C.

The normal human body temperature is 37 degrees C and usually humans quickly die if the core body temperature drops below 22 degrees C.

Dr Hasan Alam, the surgeon who is leading the research at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that often emergency patients suffering from gunshot wounds, stabbings and car accidents are on the brink of death anyway so by cooling their bodies so extensively it can protect their brain and organs from damage.

Dr Alam said trials of the technique in animals had shown it to be hugely successful.

He said: “If you drop the body’s core temperature and brain temperature down to 15 degrees C or 10 degrees C you are talking about 60 minutes and even 190 minutes of protection.

“By cooling rapidly in this fashion we can convert almost certain death into a 90 per cent survival rate.”

Dr Alam and his team are now preparing to use their life-saving technique on human patients for the first time.

This will involve connecting up a pump to the major blood vessels around the heart to remove the warm blood in the body and replace it with cold saline solution.

This allows them to cool the body by around 2 degrees C every minute, rapidly causing the body’s tissues to shut down.

At normal body temperatures, brain death typically occurs in around four or five minutes as, at low oxygen levels, cells start to produce toxins that ultimately kill them.

By cooling the body so much, the cells are essentially put into a state of suspended animation that prevents this from happening.

Dr Kevin Fong, an anaesthetist at University College London, who presents the Horizon programme said: “In a trauma ward you only have a few minutes to make a repair.

“By inducing hypothermia in trauma patients you can extend that and giving more of an opportunity for survival than was there before.”

He added: “These techniques are essentially taking people to the brink of death and then bringing them back to life.”

A BBC Two Horizon documentary on Dr Alam’s research also highlights a similar technique already being used on heart patients at Yale New Haven Hospital in southern Connecticut.

Surgeons there cool their patient’s heart and brain to around 20 degrees C before switching off life support machines to allow them to perform an operation for up to 60 minutes before the patient is gradually warmed back up and resuscitated.

John Elefteriades, the cardiac surgeon behind the operations, has found that patients who have undergone this type of surgery suffer no long term impairment to their brain function.

He said: “The body is essentially in real life suspended animation with no pulse, no blood pressure, no electrical waves in the brain. We didn’t find any evidence of functional impairment after the surgery.”

Malaysian Astrophysicist Appointed As United Nations ‘Alien Ambassador’

Malaysia’s first astrophysicist will soon become Earth’s first official point-of-contact with aliens if they come a-calling. Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman, who heads the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), would be the nearest thing that we have to a “take me to your leader” person when she takes on the new role. Allegedly the United Nations made the appointment over the weekend…

Dr Mazlan was reported to have told fellow scientists recently of an increased likelihood in the meeting with extraterrestrial life after a discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars. The portal quoted the 59-year-old former director-general of the Space Science Studies Division in the Science, Technology and Environ­ment Ministry as suggesting that the United Nations “must be ready to co-ordinate humanity’s response to any first contact”.

“The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials. When we do, we should have in place a co-ordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such co-ordination,” she was quoted as saying.

Dr Mazlan is set to talk about her new role at a scientific conference at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre in Buckinghamshire next week. Unoosa, based in Vienna, is charged with implementing the United Nation’s outer space-related policies. The office implements a programme on space applications and maintains a register of objects launched into outer space. It also provides support to developing nations in using space technology for economic development.

Genetically Modified Silkworms Produce Spider Silk

US biologists may have one-upped Spiderman, genetically modifying silkworms to produce spider silk with properties similar to natural spider web, a stunning achievement with vast potential medical and textile use.

Research published on Wednesday highlights the process that can be used for industrial production of fibres that until now could only be produced in laboratories in tiny quantities.

“This research represents a significant breakthrough in the development of superior silk fibres for both medical and non-medical applications,” said Malcolm Fraser, professor of biological sciences at Notre Dame University who worked with University of Wyoming biochemist Randy Lewis and Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. on the project.

“The generation of silk fibres having the properties of spider silks has been one of the important goals in materials science,” Fraser stressed.

That is because natural spider silks have unusual physical properties, such as much higher tensile strength and elasticity than natural silk fibres.

And artificial spider silks produced by these transgenic silkworms have similar properties of strength and flexibility to natural spider webbing, said the scientists who announced the development at Notre Dame in Indiana.

Previously only tiny amounts of spider silks had been made in labs.

But this development opens the door to viable large-scale production.

Among the potential biomedical uses of the fibres: “fine suture materials, improved wound healing bandages, or natural scaffolds for tendon and ligament repair or replacement,” the scientists said in a statement.

“Spider silk-like fibres may also have applications beyond biomedical uses, such as in bulletproof vests, strong and lightweight structural fabrics, a new generation athletic clothing and improved automobile airbags,” they added.

When the transgenic silkworms spin their cocoons, they aren’t making silk or spider silks, the scientists explained.

“Silk produced is not ordinary silkworm silk, but, rather, a combination of silkworm silk and spider silk. The genetically engineered silk protein produced by the transgenic silkworms has markedly improved elasticity and strength approaching that of native spider silk,” they added.

Aluminum Foam Made from Recycled Cans

Aluminum foam is neat stuff, made by melting the metal down and adding a bubbling agent while it’s in liquid form. The resultant material looks like a sponge, is up to 95% air, is fireproof, sound-dampening, reflective, and can absorb a high amount of impact force.

The military is incorporating aluminum foam in Humvees to absorb IED blasts, and Frank Gehry’s making a building complex out of the stuff. The informative (but occasionally silly) nine-minute video below takes a closer look at the material and how it’s made:

Sundown Lounge No. 228


A Poet for Chicago Mayor
Authonomy 2nd Birthday Giveaway
Slush Pile Reader, SlushPile Hell


A Poet for Chicago Mayor, and other Poetry Scene Happenings

If you are sick and tired of politicians getting fat while you scratch and struggle then vote for a poet for Mayor of Chicago! I will impose the Englewood Tax in which $5000 is donated to improving the community of Englewood for each cheap ass cinderblock condominium that is built.


Authonomy 2nd Birthday Giveaway

Dear authonomists,

It's slipped by, but 2 years ago beta testing ended and authonomy opened its doors to everyone for the first time.

Since then, authonomy has grown into a huge site where tens of thousands of you gather to upload books, read, discuss and connect with each other.

To celebrate this milestone, and say thank you to all of you who have played such a vital role in the story so far, this month we're running a birthday giveaway. Each week, we'll be giving away a fabulous prize to one of you, including...

* one-to-one with an editor
* a free ticket to an authonomy workshop event
* a collection of some of the books to have been published on authonomy so far - by HarperCollins and others


Slush Pile Reader, SlushPile Hell

The latest book site I found is called Slush Pile Reader. It's very similar to Author Nation, and I've already had an interesting back and forth with a UK author who has a book coming out, on my experience so far as both an ebook author and a Black writer.

And speaking of slush pile, I found a painfully hilarious blog called SlushPile Hell that's giving me excellent examples of what not to put in the query letter. I can't believe some of the boneheaded, tone deaf and downright arrogant crap people write expecting an agent or publisher to take them and their work seriously. Check it out; it oughta be required reading for novelists...


Keeping Your Mind Active Delays Dementia But Speeds Up Decline Later On

Crossword puzzles and other mentally stimulating pursuits may hide but not prevent the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, research has shown. Evidence suggests that adults who keep their brains active by reading, listening to the radio or doing puzzles, can delay the onset of dementia. But these people may then decline more quickly when they do eventually exhibit symptoms.

Dr Robert Wilson, from Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, said: ‘Our results suggest that the benefit of delaying the initial signs of cognitive decline may come at the cost of more rapid dementia progression later on, but the question is: Why does this happen?’

Mentally stimulating activities may help the brain ‘rewire’ itself to circumvent the effects of dementia, said Dr Wilson.

However, once the disease is diagnosed, damage to the brain is likely to be greater than it would be in someone who was not mentally stimulated.

Mental activity appeared to delay the start of Alzheimer’s and then speed up its progress, while reducing the overall amount of time a person suffers from the disease.

The 12-year-study, published online in the journal Neurology, involved evaluating the mental activity of 1,157 people aged 65 and over, none of whom had dementia at the start.

Mental decline was measured for each point on a “cognitive activity scale” which reflected how much brain stimulation participants had.

Over a period of six years, the rate of decline was reduced by 52 per cent for each scale point in those without cognitive impairment. For individuals diagnosed Alzheimer’s, the average rate of decline per year increased by 42 per cent for each point on the cognitive activity scale.

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘The jury is still out on whether pouring over a crossword or enjoying a good book could keep your brain ticking over for longer.

‘This robust study adds considerable weight to the argument that, at least in later life, it could and it may even delay the symptoms of dementia.

‘However although the symptoms are delayed, there is no evidence changes in the brain associated with dementia have been reduced.

‘That the brain is allowed to deteriorate to a larger degree before symptoms like memory loss become apparent could explain why the condition seems to progress more quickly after diagnosis.

‘More research is now needed to establish why this happens and what role mental stimulation may have in keeping people functioning for longer.’

Around 750,000 people in the UK suffer from some form of dementia and more than half have Alzheimer’s disease.

Cannabis Catering

BY Ariel Schwartz

Jonesing for some gourmet tri-tip and a solid buzz? Check out Cannabis Catering, a San Francisco-based outfit that specializes in marijuana cuisine. The brainchild of Chef Frederick Nesbitt, a California Culinary Academy-trained chef who has worked as personal chef for Jerry Rice and John Madden, Cannabis Catering offers four and five-course meals laced with ganja.

The idea for Cannabis Catering came to Nesbitt when he learned that his friend's diabetic mother had been diagnosed with cancer. "I would bring back edibles [from the dispensary], but they're so high in high-fructose corn syrup that she was high off sugar rather than being medicated," he says. So Nesbitt began experimenting with his own pot food--starting with mashed potatoes.

Now Nesbitt cooks an array of cannabis-laced delectables. A sample menu might include salad, lobster bisque, whiskey tri-tip with a demi-glazed sauce (containing marijuana tincture or ground-up hashish), and an infused Belgian chocolate fountain.

Each meal contains the equivalent of three to five pot cookies, but Nesbitt says he can customize the food depending on what customers want. "When you're eating a cookie, you're eating as much as you can in one portion. I'm spreading it out through a whole meal," he says. "The last thing I need is people freaking out on me."

The meals costs approximately $100 per person, but Nesbitt won't dish out his goods unless his patrons have proper documentation (read: a medical marijuana card). "I'm trying to just feed people," he says. "This is one little ingredient of what I'm doing."

MERL Develop Roaming Charging Stations To Power EVs Anywhere

Agreed that the whole concept of electric vehicles taking us to work fits in perfect harmony with the environment and our urban lifestyle, but imagine your batteries ditching you in a place where there is no charging station close by. Thinking of a similar scenario, researchers at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in Cambridge, Massachusetts have come up with an ingenious idea of portable charging stations.

They have developed a network of movable charging stations, which can be taken to wherever the demand for recharging is greatest. The idea of the this unique charging station will be presented at the Vehicular Technology Conference in Ottawa, Canada next week. The mains will charge up these station at night and set out to work during the day.

How will it work? The in-car sensors would monitor the level of charge in the battery and periodically report this to a central operations center. This center will determine areas where most cars run low on power. After finding the low-charge hotspots, the roaming stations would be easily deployed to juice up the EVs. The researchers claim that just five of these mobile stations would be enough to serve 100 electric cars on a 100-kilometer stretch of highway.

Self-Assembling Solar Cells Created That Repair Themselves

Solar cells are intended to mimic the photosynthesis of plants — converting light into energy in the most efficient manner possible. But what other characteristics of plants could be handy for the renewable energy sector to mimic? How about the self-assembly of chloroplast, the component of plants that do all the vital photosynthesis. Leaves repair themselves after sun damage again and again to keep up their ability to convert light into energy. Now, MIT researchers believe they’ve discovered how to use this self-assembly to restore solar cells damaged by the sun.

Popular Science writes, “To recreate this unique regenerative ability, the MIT team devised a novel set of self-assembling molecules that use photons to shake electrons loose in the form of electricity. The system contains seven different compounds, including carbon nanotubes that provide structure and a means to conduct the electricity away from the cells, synthetic phospholipids that form discs that also provide structural support, and other molecules that self-assemble into “reaction centers” that actually interact with the incoming photons to release electrons.”

These compounds can assemble themselves into structures able to harvest solar energy at an efficiency of about 40%. As they loose efficiency from damage, a surfacant can be spread across them to break down the compounds, then when it is filtered out, the cells reassemble good as new. The researchers think they can eventually boost the efficiency even higher, and perhaps provide solar cells that are virtually indestructible.

MIT is constantly coming out with new possibilities for the solar industry, from solar concentrators that improve both efficiency and designs, to printing thin film solar cells on paper. And now, perhaps, solar cells that bring us even closer to completely mimicking leaves.

Sundown Lounge No. 227


Cannabis Convention
Chi-Town Scene News


Medical Marijuana, Inc. & Holistic Health Educational Center (MMI & HHEC) is excited to host the upcoming holistic health and wellness, green living and medical marijuana expo in October of 2010 at the Pontiac Silverdome. We are currently seeking vendors, exhibitors, and sponsors for this very high-profile event and we want you to be a part of it. Mark October 29-31, 2010 on your calendar.

Our mission is to educate and build awareness of the health and wellness industry and of the medical and commercial business opportunities related to the cannabis industry and new green economy. To provide ethical, reliable information to the public and assist patients and caregivers with the management of their health needs. This Expo will provide them with information and access to safe and reliable products and services.

To help us achieve this, we will be hosting a series of expert speakers on subjects including; Medical Marijuana, Holistic Health and Wellness, Alternative Medicine, Nutrition and Supplements, Organic Foods and Products, the Hemp Industry, Green Living Products, Entrepreneur Opportunities, Activism, Legal Issues, Finance, Security and Safety, and a host of other related topics.

Industries from across North America and Europe will be represented. Join other Distributors, Manufacturers, Medicinal Marijuana, Holistic Health and Alternative Medicine Professionals, Hemp Industry Leaders, Green Living, Banking and Insurance professionals, as well as Entrepreneurs offering a variety of opportunities in this fast growing industry.


Cool September Chicago Poetry News

New poetry venue alert! Pressure Billiards and Cafe, at 6318 North Clark St, is launching an open mic every third Thursday, welcoming poetry, short stories, musicians and comedians, with a focus on supporting the poets and writers of Chicago with a safe, fun environment to perform in. It starts around 8:30 PM, with no cover. They will operate in two rounds with one to two poems per performance, so poets will have the opportunity to perform up to four poems throughout the evening. Pretty cool, huh?

Are you a fan of Whitman? Can you act? Can you recite poetry in your birthday suit? WTF? Auditions for a completely naked version of Leaves of Grass directed by Jeremy Bloom (to be presented at Links Hall on October 1) will take place on Monday, September 6, from 7 to 10 PM at About Face Theatre Administrative Offices (not affiliated), 1222 W. Wilson Ave, 2nd Floor West. This fleshy poetry show is seeking diverse actors to speak and embody poetry, people who are comfortable with their bodies and movement while nude, and those who are capable of speaking poetic language. Bring headshot/photo and a memorized poem 2 minutes in length (Walt Whitman preferred). Email Cara Clifford at for more information.

And speaking of naked, join host Marvin Tate (cool photos huh?) for "The Naked Truth," a talk / variety show at The Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave, on Monday, September 13 at 7 PM.


Scientists Create Liver Cells from Human Skin

Scientists have created liver cells in a lab for the first time using reprogrammed cells from human skin, paving the way for the potential development of new treatments for liver diseases that kill thousands each year.

Cambridge University scientists who reported their results in the Journal of Clinical Investigation on Wednesday, said they also found a way of avoiding the kind of intense political and ethical rows over embryonic stem cells which are currently hampering work in the United States.

“This technology bypasses the need for using human embryos,” said Tamir Rashid of Cambridge’s laboratory for regenerative medicine, who led the study. “The cells we created were just as good as if we had used embryonic stem cells.”

Embryonic stem cells are seen as the most powerful and malleable type of cells but are controversial because they are harvested from human embryos when they are just a few days old.

Liver disease is the fifth largest cause of death in developed nations after cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, and respiratory diseases. In the United States, it accounts for around 25,000 deaths a year, and experts say that in Britain liver disease death rates among young and middle-aged people are increasing at a rate of 8 to 10 percent a year.

Rashid said that despite 40 years of trying, scientists have so far never been able to grow liver cells in a lab, making research into liver disorders extremely difficult.

Given a shortage of donor liver organs, alternatives are urgently needed, he added. This study increases the likelihood that alternatives can be found, either by developing new drugs or by using cell-based therapy — when cells from patients with genetic diseases are “cured” and transplanted back.

Liver diseases can be either inherited, or caused by alcohol abuse or infections such as hepatitis.

For their study, Rashid’s team took skin samples from seven patients who were suffering from a variety of inherited liver diseases, and three from healthy people to act as comparisons.

They then reprogrammed cells from the skin samples into a kind of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells, and then reprogrammed them to generate liver cells which mimicked the broad range of liver diseases in the patients they had come from. They used the same technique to create “healthy” liver cells from the comparison group.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells and scientists are trying to find ways to use them to grow new organs, repair damaged hearts or severed spinal cords, or replace brain cells destroyed by strokes, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

“Previously we have never been able to grow liver cells in the laboratory, so this should open up a whole new sphere of research,” Rashid said.

Commenting on the study, Mark Thursz, a specialist in liver disease at Imperial College in London, said it was a major step which may in future be a potential source of new liver cells for patients with liver failure.

Research work using human embryonic stem cells was thrown into doubt on Monday after a district court issued a preliminary injunction halting federal funding for it.

Scientists Crack the Genetic Code of Wheat

British scientists have decoded the genetic sequence of wheat — one of the world’s oldest and most important crops — a development they hope could help breed better strains of the global food staple.

Wheat is grown across more of the world’s farmland than any other cereal, and researchers said Friday they’re posting its genetic code on the Internet in the hope that farmers can use it as a tool to improve their harvests. The discovery could also prove handy to genetic engineers.

University of Liverpool scientist Neil Hall said that the code would serve as “the reference — the starting point that new technology and new science can be built upon.”

He said that, for example, the information could help farmers better identify genetic variations responsible for disease resistance, drought tolerance and yield. Although the genetic sequence being published Friday remains a rough draft, and additional strains of wheat need to be analyzed for the work to be truly useful, Hall predicted it wouldn’t take long for his work to make an impact in the field.

“Hopefully the benefit of this work will come through in the next five years,” he said.

Among the potential benefits of tougher strains of wheat: Lower prices for bread and greater food security for the world’s poor.

Wheat is a relative latecomer to the world of DNA mapping. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the date the human genome was laid bare. Other crops have had their genetic codes unscrambled within the past few years — rice in 2005, corn in 2009, and soybeans earlier this year.

The reason for the delay in analyzing wheat’s genetic code, Hall said, was that the code is so massive — far larger than corn or rice and five times the length of the one carried by humans. One reason for the size is that strains such as the Chinese spring wheat analyzed by Hall’s team carry six copies of the same gene (most creatures carry two.) Another is that wheat has a tangled ancestry, tracing its descent from three different species of wild grass.

But sequencing techniques have improved dramatically over the past decade, and scientists were able to draw up their draft of the code in about a year.

Although the code may yet see use by genetic engineers hoping to craft pesticide-resistant strains of wheat, Hall was at pains to stress the conventional applications of his work. Until now, breeders seeking to combine the best traits of two strains of wheat would cross pollinate the pair, grow the hybrid crop and hope for the best.

Once they know which genetic markers to look for, Hall said, new forms of wheat could be rolled out far faster.

The cracking of wheat’s code comes at a time when prices have shot up in the wake of crop failures in Russia, highlighting how the vagaries of world food production can hit import-dependent countries such as Egypt.

Concerns over climate change, water shortages and population growth have loomed in the background for years. New risks include a destructive mutant form of stem rust. The reddish, wind-borne fungus — known to scientists as Ug99 — has devastated wheat crops in places such as Kenya, where up to 80 percent of the wheat in afflicted farmers’ fields have been ruined.

Alexander Evans, an expert in resource scarcity issues at New York University, welcomed the announcement as something that would be “really helpful in helping farmers producing food that will meet those challenges.”

But, as one British paper hailed the announcement as the most significant breakthrough in wheat farming for 10,000 years, Evans warned against putting too much faith in genetics, saying that reforming the politics and economics of food distribution was easily as important.

“We have to be very careful about saying that science will feed the world,” he said.

Cannabis Electric Car

An electric car made of hemp is being developed by a group of Canadian companies in collaboration with an Alberta Crown corporation.

The Kestrel will be prototyped and tested later in August by Calgary-based Motive Industries Inc., a vehicle development firm focused on advanced materials and technologies, the company announced.

The compact car, which will hold a driver and up to three passengers, will have a top speed of 90 kilometres per hour and a range of 40 to 160 kilometres before needing to be recharged, depending on the type of battery, the company said in an email to CBC News Monday.

It will be powered by a motor made by Boucherville, Que.-based TM4 Electrodynamic Systems, said Motive Industries president Nathan Armstrong.

The car's body will be made of an impact-resistant composite material produced from mats of hemp, a plant from the cannabis family. The material is being supplied by Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures, a provincial Crown corporation that provides technical services and funding to help commercialize new technologies. The hemp is being grown in Vegreville, Alta.

The Kestrel is one of five electric vehicles being developed by Project Eve, an automotive industry collaboration founded by Motive and Toronto Electric, an Ontario material handling and electric motor company, to boost the production of electric vehicles and electric vehicle components in Canada.

Colleges to help build cars

The Kestrel cars will be built with the help of polytechnic schools in Alberta, Quebec and Toronto, and the first 20 cars are scheduled to be delivered next year to EnMax, a Calgary-based energy distribution, supply and service company that is taking part in Project Eve.

Automotive pioneer Henry Ford first built a car made of hemp fibre and resin more than half a century ago.

"It's not an original idea," Armstrong said, but one that wasn't developed much further as car manufacturers favoured other materials, such as steel, in subsequent decades.

However, fibreglass and carbon fibre-based composites have gained popularity as materials for the body of racecars because they are strong, but light. Such composite materials consist of pieces or fibres of a hard reinforcement material, such as glass or carbon fibre, surrounded and supported by a matrix of a material such as plastic.

Producing composites from glass or carbon fibre requires intense heating in furnaces and multiple chemical processes, Armstrong said, making it very energy intensive,

In contrast, plant-based fibres grow in a field using the energy of the sun.

"As a structural material, hemp is about the best," Armstrong said, as it has about twice the strength of other plant fibres. It doesn't require much water or pesticide use, and grows well in Canada, providing a high yield per hectare. Market advantage

"Plus, it's illegal to grow it in the U.S., so it actually gives Canada a bit of a market advantage," Armstrong added. The U.S. does allow the import of processed hemp.

ATlF had been working for some time on hemp-based composite materials with the hardness of glass and had been seeking a commercial use.

Motive Industries had joined forces with Toronto Electric, a material-handling and electric motor company, to found Project Eve and decided to give the material a try.

The car will take batteries with a capacity ranging from 4.5 to 17.3 kilowatt hours of energy.

The vehicle's full design will be released after the September EV 2010 VÉ Conference and Trade Show in Vancouver.

Black Rice is the New Cancer-Fighting Superfood

Black rice – revered in ancient China but overlooked in the West – could be the greatest ’superfoods’, scientists revealed today. The cereal is low in sugar but packed with healthy fibre and plant compounds that combat heart disease and cancer, say experts.

Scientists from Louisiana State University analysed samples of bran from black rice grown in the southern U.S. They found boosted levels of water-soluble anthocyanin antioxidants.

Anthocyanins provide the dark colours of many fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries and red peppers. They are what makes black rice ‘black’.

Research suggests that the dark plant antioxidants, which mop up harmful molecules, can help protect arteries and prevent the DNA damage that leads to cancer.

Food scientist Dr Zhimin Xu said: ‘Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar, and more fibre and vitamin E antioxidants.

‘If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran? Especially, black rice bran would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health-promoting antioxidants.’

Centuries ago black rice was known as ‘Forbidden Rice’ in ancient China because only nobles were allowed to eat it.

Today black rice is mainly used in Asia for food decoration, noodles, sushi and desserts.

But food manufacturers could potentially use black rice bran or bran extracts to make breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, biscuits and other foods healthier, said Dr Xu.

When rice is processed, millers remove the outer layers of the grains to produce brown rice or more refined white rice – the kind most widely consumed in the West.

Brown rice is said to be more nutritious because it has higher levels of healthy vitamin E compounds and antioxidants.

But according to Dr Xu’s team, varieties of rice that are black or purple in colour are healthier still.

They added that black rice could also be used to provide healthier, natural colourants. Studies linked some artificial colourants to cancer and behavioural problems in children.

The scientists presented their findings today at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

Sundown Lounge No. 226


Black Science Fiction Anthology
2010 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest
Stars Go Dim


Nashville, TN August 16, 2010 – Announces Black Science Fiction Anthology

At long last Black Science Fiction Society releases its long awaited publication, “Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction”. Genesis, a name that evokes a sense of beginning is the start of a new age of black science fiction that will contribute to the ever growing, ever changing mythos of black literature. Within its pages you will delve into the worlds of science fiction, speculative fiction, horror and fantasy. Writers that are both seasoned and up and coming, African American as well as from the African Diaspora contributed 20+ pieces of the most entertaining, eclectic and enthralling stories that will capture your imaginations like never before.

The official launch will be at the Alien Encounters Book Festival that is scheduled for Thursday, September 2, 2010 through Sunday, September 5, 2010 at The Auburn Ave Research Library on African American Culture, in Atlanta, GA. There will be hardcopies available at the book festival. Also, the book will be available on, Barnes and Noble, and Ingram Books. was created to highlight, celebrate and develop black science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy and horror. It is a focal point by which black science fiction fans and developers meet, share ideas, and get together to develop projects in the black science fiction genre.


Enter the 2010 PSH Poetry Contest: Everyone Gets a Prize!

over 200 poems entered into our contest so far!

The 2010 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest is well under way. Thanks to our many sponsors, in addition to the cash prizes to the contest winners, everyone will get a poetry/writing related prize just for entering! Enter now! Click on "2010 Contest" from the main PSH Menu for all the details, or email to have the guidelines automatically e-mailed to you.


Joey writes with Richard Marx!

Joey Avalos had the amazing opportunity of writing with legendary songwriter Richard Marx out in his Chicago home earlier this month. Richard Marx has written over 13 #1 hits and has sold over 30 million records. Joey said, "Well, I can check something off my bucket list. I had the privilege of writing with one of my all-time favorite songwriters.". They co-wrote a song called "Life Without You" which we all think is a hit.

Michael adds twins to the family!

Our bass player Michael and his wife Stacie just had twin baby girls on August 5th. They named them Kennedie Marie and Kinley Rose.


Copenhagen Wheel – Transforms Any Bicycle Into a Hybrid Electric Bike

MIT’s “Copenhagen Wheel,” designed by the university’s SENSEable City Lab, is designed to be a simple addition to any bike that will give it some electric assistant. The benefits are obvious, and it’s scored MIT’s design an award from James Dyson, the vacuum king.

We’ve seen the Copenhagen Wheel before, but now with this kind of award backing it up hopefully it pushes its way toward a real product one day. The motor, battery and everything needed to assist the bike is built right into the cap, meaning you could fit it to the bike you already use instead of having to buy a new one.

From MIT:

Its sleek red hub not only contains a motor, batteries and an internal gear system — helping cyclists overcome hilly terrains and long distances — but also includes environmental and location sensors that provide data for cycling-related mobile applications. Cyclists can use this data to plan healthier bike routes, to achieve their exercise goals or to create new connections with other cyclists. Through sharing their data with friends or their city, they are also contributing to a larger pool of information from which the whole community can benefit.

Air Force In Brazil To Record UFO Sightings

Brazil’s government has ordered its air force to officially record any sighting of unidentified flying objects.

A government decree said all military and civilian pilots as well as air traffic controllers should register any UFO sightings with the national aerospace defence command.

The information will be stored in the national archives in Rio de Janeiro.

It will be made available to researchers, including those seeking evidence of extraterrestrial life…

Anything unusual that is seen, photographed or video filmed in Brazil’s air space will now have to be reported and catalogued.

But the air force said it would limit itself to collecting information, and would not be chasing UFOs.

“Air force command does not have a specialized structure to carry out scientific experiments on these phenomena and will limit itself to recording any events” the air force said in a statement.

There have been several reports of UFOs in Brazil in recent decades.

In 1986, air force jets were scrambled to investigate unidentified objects in the skies above Sao Paulo, but the phenomenon was never fully explained.

And in 1977 the Amazon town of Vigia asked for military help after some residents said they had been attacked by extra-terrestrials.

One anonymous air traffic controller told the Brazilian newspaper O Dia that sightings had been reported at the highest level.

“I have heard of ministers and even a president who said they had seen a UFO”, he said.

Brazilian UFO watchers have welcomed the decision to make such information public in future.

Desk Lamp Turns Table-Top Into 3D

Switching on a lamp is all it takes to turn a table-top into an interactive map with this clever display, on show at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics and animation conference in Los Angeles.

Multi-touch table-top displays project content through glass and respond to touch – imagine a table-sized smartphone screen.

But Li-Wei Chan from the National Taiwan University in Taipei wanted to make these types of screens more appealing for multiple users. The idea is that several people could look at the same images, and get more information about the areas that interest them, using moveable objects. “I came up with the idea of using a lamp as the interface to provide source of high-resolution projection when one day I saw the famous lamp in Pixar movies.”

Users viewing an image such as a map projected onto a table-top display can zoom in on specific areas – seeing street names for example – simply by positioning the “lamp” device over them.

“We combine an infrared projector and a standard colour projector to simultaneously project visible content and invisible markers on the table surface,” says Chan. The “lamp” is fitted with infrared cameras and can use the hidden markers to compute its position in three dimensions. It then uses this information to control the projection of high-res images onto the correct place on the table-top.

Window on 3D

The team have also created a tablet computer which lets viewers see a two-dimensional scene in 3D. If you hold the computer over the area of the map you are interested in, a 3D view of that area will appear on the screen.

The “lamp” also comes in a handheld flashlight design, which Chan thinks could be used with high-res scans of paintings in museums, for example, so that people could zoom in to see more detail of things that have caught their eye.

Using the tablet computer to show up areas of a 3D map would allow several users, each with their own tablet, to examine and discuss the map at once, says Chan. This could be useful for the military, when examining a map of unfamiliar territory and discussing strategy, for example.

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