Author Topic: Weekly Science Headlines  (Read 113813 times)

Kai

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Weekly Science Headlines
« on: July 30, 2008, 09:04:06 pm »
July 30, 2008

The Nature of Glass Remains Anything but Clear

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

It is well known that panes of stained glass in old European churches are thicker at the bottom because glass is a slow-moving liquid that flows downward over centuries.

Well known, but wrong. Medieval stained glass makers were simply unable to make perfectly flat panes, and the windows were just as unevenly thick when new.

The tale contains a grain of truth about glass resembling a liquid, however. The arrangement of atoms and molecules in glass is indistinguishable from that of a liquid. But how can a liquid be as strikingly hard as glass?

http://snipurl.com/37ch9

AIDS Deaths Down 10 Percent in 2007

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The number of AIDS deaths worldwide dropped 10 percent in 2007 because of increasing access to treatment, as did the number of new infections in children, the United Nations reported today.

Condom use and prevention efforts increased in many countries and adolescent sex declined in some of the most heavily affected regions, the report says.

... Despite these gains, however, the overall number of new infections during the year remained constant at about 2.7 million, fueled by increases in countries including China, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Russia and Vietnam.

http://snipurl.com/37cjj

Canadian Arctic Sheds Ice Chunk

from BBC News Online

A large chunk of an Arctic ice shelf has broken free of the northern Canadian coast, scientists say.

Nearly 20 sq km (eight sq miles) of ice from the Ward Hunt shelf has split away from Ellesmere Island, according to satellite pictures. It is thought to be the biggest piece of ice shed in the region since 60 sq km of the nearby Ayles ice shelf broke away in 2005.

Scientists say further splitting could occur during the Arctic summer melt. The polar north is once again experiencing a rapid ice retreat this year, although many scientists doubt the record minimum extent of 4.13 million sq km (1.59 million sq miles) of sea-ice seen in 2007 will be beaten.

http://snipurl.com/37nlt 

When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Shows Early Promise

from USA Today

CHICAGO (Associated Press)—For the first time, an experimental drug shows promise for halting the progression of Alzheimer's disease by taking a new approach: breaking up the protein tangles that clog victims' brains.

The encouraging results from the drug called Rember, reported Tuesday at a medical conference in Chicago, electrified a field battered by recent setbacks. The drug was developed by Singapore-based TauRx Therapeutics.

Even if bigger, more rigorous studies show it works, Rember is still several years away from being available, and experts warned against overexuberance. But they were excited.

http://snipurl.com/37cp6

Ancient Ocean Cooling Sparked a Biodiversity Boom

from National Geographic News

More than 400 million years ago, Earth's dramatically warmer sea temperatures plummeted to almost present-day levels, opening the door for a boom in biodiversity, new research shows.

The cooler seas—which occurred during the Ordovician period—created a more hospitable environment for a range of species, researchers say.

The find might also foreshadow a biodiversity crisis if the planet continues to warm due to climate change.

http://snipurl.com/37cub

Bees Help Police Close in on Serial Killers

from New Scientist

You might not think it, but bumblebees and serial killers have something in common: neither like to divulge their address and both tend to stay close to home. Now a study of the habits of one could be used to track down the other.

Geographical profiling (GP) is a technique used by the police to find serial offenders. The search is narrowed down using two common traits: most attacks happen fairly close to the perpetrator's home, but beyond a "buffer zone" that prevents the attacker being recognised or noticed by neighbours.

By mapping out the locations of crime scenes, police aim to identify the buffer zone and prioritise their search in this area.

http://snipurl.com/37cxr

Bracing the Satellite Infrastructure for a Solar Superstorm

from Scientific American

As night was falling across the Americas on Sunday, August 28, 1859, the phantom shapes of the auroras could already be seen overhead. From Maine to the tip of Florida, vivid curtains of light took the skies.

Startled Cubans saw the auroras directly overhead; ships' logs near the equator described crimson lights reaching halfway to the zenith. Many people thought their cities had caught fire. Scientific instruments around the world, patiently recording minute changes in Earth's magnetism, suddenly shot off scale, and spurious electric currents surged into the world's telegraph systems.

... The impact of the 1859 [solar] storm was muted only by the infancy of our technological civilization at that time. Were it to happen today, it could severely damage satellites, disable radio communications and cause continent-wide electrical blackouts that would require weeks or longer to recover from.

http://snipurl.com/37d17

Statins 'May Cut Dementia Risk'

from BBC News Online

Scientists have found further evidence that taking commonly used cholesterol-lowering statins may protect against dementia and memory loss.

The study, published in Neurology, found that statins—normally taken to reduce heart disease risk—may cut the risk of dementia by half.

The five-year project examined 1,674 Mexican Americans aged 60 and over at heightened risk of dementia. The Alzheimer's Research Trust said the research is "encouraging."

http://snipurl.com/37crl

The Web's Best 'Happy Birthday' Cards for NASA

from the Christian Science Monitor

NASA turned 50 yesterday. On July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed his name to the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating the agency that brought man to the moon, satellites to distant planets, and landers to Mars.

No NASA milestone would be complete without tons of multimedia coverage.

So, to help ring in this golden jubilee, the Monitor has brought together some of the best multimedia NASA-birthday coverage from across the web.

http://snipurl.com/37d
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Kai

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2008, 02:04:41 pm »
Just a note on this thread:

I get an email with this sent from my graduate adviser weekly. Some of the news is fail, but most of it is fairly interesting. I don't know if you all care, but I'm putting it out there anyway.
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Cramulus

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2008, 02:35:21 pm »
Very interesting reading! Thanks Kai!


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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2008, 03:31:33 pm »
Quote
When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

This is the one that interests me the most... and how it seems to run counter to the IDEAL of "I want a job where I'm doing something I like."

Is all action-for-pay doomed to become "work" even if we enjoyed the action before we got paid for it?
LMNO
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Daruko

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2008, 03:43:16 pm »
Good thread.  Interesting articles.   I'll add to it, if you don't mind.

3D Printing for the Masses
http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/21152/?a=f
Shapeways, a new online service, aims to bring customized manufacturing to the masses by allowing consumers to submit digital designs of products that are then printed, using 3-D printers, and shipped back, at prices typically between $50 and $150.

While some 3-D printing services already exist, they are geared to professionals familiar with rendering designs in software suitable for 3-D printers. Shapeways makes this process far easier. Its proprietary software checks customers' designs to ensure that they are printable, and it tweaks them if necessary.


Gene surveys identify schizophrenia triggers
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080730/full/news.2008.994.html
Researchers in two large-scale multinational studies have found that rare genetic changes are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.

The International Schizophrenia Consortium studied the genomes of 3,391 patients with schizophrenia, looking for a specific type of genetic error called a "copy number variation (CNV)," in which a section of the genome has been deleted or duplicated. In the other study, the SCENE consortium cataloged all the CNVs between 15,000 parents and their children and looked for matches with the CNVs of over 4,600 schizophrenia patients.

Both studies found genetic deletions in chromosomes 1, 15 and 22. These deletions are associated with a greatly increased risk of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia affects around 1 in every 100 people at some point during their lives. Genetic factors are thought to account for more than 70% of cases.



LMNO, PhD (life continues)

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2008, 03:50:58 pm »
Quote
When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

This is the one that interests me the most... and how it seems to run counter to the IDEAL of "I want a job where I'm doing something I like."

Is all action-for-pay doomed to become "work" even if we enjoyed the action before we got paid for it?
LMNO
Pope/Wrought Iron Instigator
First Church of Last Exit Before Toll
The Spider Project.

Buy the Chao te Ching, or be doomed forever.

http://www.stonybrook.edu/sb/marburger/index.shtml

"Get offa me, you freaks!  This is not North Korea.  No.  This is America, and I expect to be PAID for that sort of nonsense.  In advance.  No credit...Cash on the barrelhead or GTFO.  I swear to God, there's nothing more annoying than commie perverts who don't understand the intrinsic value of the free market system."

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2008, 04:54:37 pm »
When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

This is especially interesting to me because it may help explain why so many full-time lampers I know find their creativity and production stifled by doing custom work.
“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.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2008, 08:12:09 pm »
Good thread.  Interesting articles.   I'll add to it, if you don't mind.

3D Printing for the Masses
http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/21152/?a=f
Shapeways, a new online service, aims to bring customized manufacturing to the masses by allowing consumers to submit digital designs of products that are then printed, using 3-D printers, and shipped back, at prices typically between $50 and $150.

While some 3-D printing services already exist, they are geared to professionals familiar with rendering designs in software suitable for 3-D printers. Shapeways makes this process far easier. Its proprietary software checks customers' designs to ensure that they are printable, and it tweaks them if necessary.


Gene surveys identify schizophrenia triggers
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080730/full/news.2008.994.html
Researchers in two large-scale multinational studies have found that rare genetic changes are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.

The International Schizophrenia Consortium studied the genomes of 3,391 patients with schizophrenia, looking for a specific type of genetic error called a "copy number variation (CNV)," in which a section of the genome has been deleted or duplicated. In the other study, the SCENE consortium cataloged all the CNVs between 15,000 parents and their children and looked for matches with the CNVs of over 4,600 schizophrenia patients.

Both studies found genetic deletions in chromosomes 1, 15 and 22. These deletions are associated with a greatly increased risk of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia affects around 1 in every 100 people at some point during their lives. Genetic factors are thought to account for more than 70% of cases.



What, he's good for something!  No fucking way!

Kai

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2008, 01:09:16 am »
Guess it was (semi) daily and not weekly. so, postings whenever I get them.

July 31, 2008
As Olympics Near, Beijing Still Can't Beat Pollution

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

BEIJING -- Despite removing 1.5 million cars from the roads, shutting down hundreds of factories and construction sites and bringing much of the city's economic life to a standstill, Beijing remains stubbornly shrouded in a persistent, gray haze on the eve of the Summer Olympics.

The poor air quality just 11 days before the opening ceremonies has left Chinese government officials scrambling for explanations that include statistical anomalies and the 90-plus-degree heat.

The state-run China Daily reported Monday that the Chinese government may be forced to implement an "emergency plan" if air quality hasn't improved 48 hours before the Games begin Aug. 8. One possible measure would expand the recently implemented system that allows cars on the road only on odd or even days, depending on license plate numbers, to a ban of up to 90 percent of private traffic.

http://snipurl.com/37ot1

Eclipses in Ancient China Spurred Science, Beheadings?

from National Geographic News

The Olympics aren't the only epic event occurring in China next month. A total solar eclipse, the first since 2006, will turn day to night on Friday, the first of August.

The eclipse will also be visible in parts of northern Canada, Greenland (Denmark), Siberia (Russia), and Mongolia. Many Chinese will celebrate the celestial event with parties and viewing festivities—but it wasn't always so.

The Chinese have a long, sophisticated history of charting the skies and have recorded eclipses for thousands of years. The events were once considered ill omens and, if the ancient records are to be believed, dramatic eclipses may have caused more than one unfortunate astrologer to lose his head.

http://snipurl.com/37tm1

Thin Films: Ready for Their Close-Up?

from Nature News

From the 1950s onwards, big chunks of crystalline silicon have dominated the world of solar cells. But the dominance of these traditional cells—which make up 90 percent of today's 10-gigawatt-a-year installation market—is now being challenged by 'thin-film' solar cells that are micrometres or mere nanometres thick, and frequently made of materials other than silicon.

Some argue that such a change in technology is the only way that solar-cell technology can hope to maintain the 50 percent annual growth it has enjoyed during the past five years.

... Most thin-film cells sold today still use silicon, but in its amorphous, rather than crystalline, form. This makes the cells thin and cheap but costs them half or more of their efficiency compared with traditional designs. The hope, and to some extent the hype, is focused on new technologies.

http://snipurl.com/37tom

Nature's Chronic Boozers

from Science News

Out boozing for several hours every night—that would be drinking like a tree shrew. Except the tree shrews can scurry a straight line afterward.

The pentailed tree shrews (Ptilocercus lowii) of Malaysia average more than two hours each night sipping palm nectar that has naturally fermented, report Frank Wiens of the University of Bayreuth in Germany and his colleagues in the July 29 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is the first recorded case of chronic alcohol consumption by a wild mammal," Wiens says. ... But tree shrews may not have the same metabolism as humans when it comes to detoxifying alcohol.

http://snipurl.com/37tr1

After the Tragedy: Vent? Not Necessarily

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

"The more [Virginia Tech students] can talk about what they've lived through, the more that they can be encouraged to emote ... that gives them some security and insulation against burying those feelings and then having them surprise them later in life."

In the aftermath of the April 16, 2007, fatal shootings of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech, [Keith] Ablow was simply voicing post-Freudian conventional wisdom: When something horrible happens, vent.

... But hold on a minute. That has simply not been proved true for all people in all circumstances, [Mark] Seery says. His most recent research, in the June issue of Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, shows that after a large-scale traumatic event, such as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, quickly talking about one's emotions isn't necessarily for the best.

http://snipurl.com/37ouv

Termite Bellies and Biofuels

from Smithsonian Magazine

Falk Warnecke peered down through a mounted magnifying glass and poked gently at a small pile of bugs. ... With a pair of fine-tipped forceps, he grabbed one of the insects at the base of its thorax and lifted it off the block. It was brown, and hardly bigger than an eyelash. With a second forceps, he pinched the end of its abdomen. He tugged gently, and pulled it in two. A shiny, reddish string slid smoothly out of the exoskeleton.

... The gut has bulbous chambers that are swollen with vast quantities of microbes that the termites employ to break down cellulose from the wood or grass the insects consume. When he's not calling termites "cute little animals," he refers to them as "walking bioreactors," and considers their juicy interiors a kind of liquid gold.

For now, he's interested only in the biggest bulb on the string, what's known as the third proctodeal segment, or, in the vernacular of microbial ecology, the "hindgut paunch." This microliter-sized compartment ... is home to a distinct community of microbes that some people think may help solve the energy crisis.

http://snipurl.com/37tt5

Scientists Confirm Liquid Lake, Beach on Saturn's Moon Titan

from Scientific American

Just in time for a summer holiday, scientists have discovered the solar system's newest beach destination. Too bad there's no way to get there—at least not easily. Researchers report in Nature today that they identified a dark liquid lake, surrounded by a lighter shoreline and a "beach," on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan.

The foot-shaped lake is the first verified extraterrestrial body of liquid, and is likely filled with hydrocarbons, simple compounds also common on Earth.

"This is the first definitive evidence for both liquid and liquid hydrocarbons on Titan," says lead study author Robert Brown, a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) in Tucson.

http://snipurl.com/37tw2

Gene Mutations Reveal Schizophrenia's Complexity

from New Scientist

The three largest genetic schizophrenia studies to date have uncovered several ways in which changes to the genome may increase the risk of developing the mental disorder.

The studies bring to light several common variations that increase the risk slightly, and rarer ones that raise it significantly, researchers say.

While previous studies have suggested several genes with roles in schizophrenia, small sample sizes gave these findings limited statistical significance. Most recently, differences in copy number variations (CNVs) ... were identified between healthy and schizophrenic people. But the study was too small to implicate specific CNVs in causing the disease.

http://snipurl.com/37txk

Ancient Greek 'Computer' Displayed Olympics Calendar

from the Guardian (UK)

An ancient Greek "computer" used to calculate the movements of the sun, moon and planets has been linked to Archimedes after scientists deciphered previously hidden inscriptions on the device.

X-ray images of the bronze mechanism, which was recovered from a shipwreck more than a century ago, also revealed a sporting calendar that displays the cycle of the prestigious "crown" games, including the Olympics, which were held every four years.

Corroded remains of the device were found in 1901 by spongedivers, who happened upon the shipwreck of a Roman merchant vessel while sheltering from a storm near the tiny Greek island of Antikythera. The ship, which was laden with treasures from the Greek world including bronze statues, pottery and glassware, is believed to have met its fate in the notoriously dangerous stretch of water en route to Italy.

http://snipurl.com/37u1a

Not Quite Rocketeer, but Jet Pack's a Start

from the Seattle Times

OSHKOSH, Wis. — This isn't how a jet pack is supposed to look, is it?

Hollywood has envisioned jet packs as upside-down fire extinguishers strapped to people's backs. But Glenn Martin's invention is more unwieldy: a 250-pound piano-size contraption that people settle into rather than strap on.

As thousands watched Tuesday, the New Zealand inventor's 16-year-old son donned a helmet, fastened himself to a prototype Martin jet pack and revved the engine, which sounded like a motorcycle. Harrison Martin eased about 3 feet off the ground, the engine roaring with a whine so loud that some kids covered their ears.

http://snipurl.com/37u47
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singer

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2008, 01:56:48 am »

This is the one that interests me the most... and how it seems to run counter to the IDEAL of "I want a job where I'm doing something I like."

Is all action-for-pay doomed to become "work" even if we enjoyed the action before we got paid for it?


Probably in sombunal cases generally,  but certainly in mosbunal cases where the standards for approval are raised as soon as money changes hands.

All those little girls who like to play with hair and little boys who like to mess with engines get tons of praise and encouragement as long as they are giving haircuts and cleaning carburetors for free, but as soon as their friends have to pay for the service, they become critical and demanding, and that sucks all the fun out of it because that was the pay off... the praise.... the rush of being validated by others.

Given enough adjustment time sombunal make the transition to a monetary pay off.  It probably isn't as inherently gratifying as all the validating praise, but at least they're making money doing what they USED to do for the love of it.

As opposed to doing something they outright loathe to make money.
"Magic" is one of the fundamental properties of "Reality"

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2008, 06:05:24 am »
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.
“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.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2008, 09:18:13 am »
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.

Yes. If people are too stupid to realize that, they should not be on the internet, or go outside without adult supervision.
"The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own? How could you be anything other than a slave to the darkness that comes before? Only the Logos allows one to mitigate that slavery. Only knowing the sources of thought and action allows us to own our thoughts and our actions, to throw off the yoke of circumstance."
- R. Scott Bakker, The Darkness That Comes Before

singer

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2008, 10:33:31 am »


Yes. If people are too stupid to realize that, they should not be on the internet, or go outside without adult supervision.

...and yet... there they are.... all the time, looking for their little nitpicky points to score so they can start a 'lamewar' in order to feel somehow superior.  Hence the pre-emptive linguistic "I already SAID "not all" so that maybe a conversational concept could be furthered without the need for everyone to stop and wet their pance at the incredible unique special specialness of whoever is gonna jump in first and say "I'm not most people".

Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

(edit=typo)
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 10:43:49 am by singer »
"Magic" is one of the fundamental properties of "Reality"

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2008, 12:07:24 pm »
Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

what?

- triplezero,
text message generation
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e-prime disclaimer: let it seem fairly unclear I understand the apparent subjectivity of the above statements. maybe.

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2008, 12:33:35 pm »
Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

what?

- triplezero,
text message generation

If you were a real thumbtyper that would have been "wht".... or just "?"  (ok.. maybe "???")
"Magic" is one of the fundamental properties of "Reality"