Cosmic Whacks as Creative Forces

first_img(Visited 24 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Asteroid impacts are some astronomers’ answer to everything, except when they are shown to be unworkable.Titan as a billiard fusion:  Most collisions break things up and send pieces scattering, but a new theory proposes that Saturn’s giant moon Titan represents a merger of moonlets.  “Did several moons collide to form Saturn’s Titan?” Richard Kerr teased on Science Now.  He heard that rumor at a meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) in Denver:“The Origin of Titan—So Big … So Alone.” That was the playful title of a talk given here yesterday at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences. The gist? Saturn’s relatively huge moon Titan, which orbits unaccompanied by the usual retinue of similar-sized moons, started out as three or four standard-issue satellites of the ringed planet that ran amok, collided, and merged into one huge moon and a few scraps of debris.Douglas Hamilton got creative about Titan before the crowd because “the biggest mystery is how it came to be in the first place.”  He didn’t see it happen except in a computer model.  Might as well speculate, then: “Hamilton acknowledges he’s not sure how he would ‘prove’ that he is right.”  Contrarily, though, Titan has few impact craters, showing it has a young surface, Science Daily said.  Hamilton may want his new theory to motivate NASA to keep the funding flowing for the Cassini mission.  It makes a nice story at least—kind of like the one that other planetary scientists say created Earth’s moon.Whoops, about that moon theory:  The theory of the origin of the moon by a collision has run into trouble.  Daniel Clery wrote for a Science News focus, “Planetary scientists thought they had explained what made the moon, but ever-better computer models and rock analyses suggest reality was messier than anyone expected.”  So the “Impact Theory Gets Whacked” itself, he titled his report from another scientific gathering.Over the past decade, increasingly sophisticated computer simulations have shown that the tidy scenario clashes with what geochemists have discovered about moon rocks and meteorites from elsewhere in the solar system. As a result, researchers are casting around for new explanations. At a meeting at the Royal Society in London last month—the first devoted to moon formation in 15 years—experts reviewed the evidence. They ended the meeting in an even deeper impasse than before, as several proposed solutions to the moon puzzle were found wanting.Bring in a bigger impactor:  Because of the lunatic problems, some of the modelers are looking for an even wilder theory: the idea that Venus helped form the Earth’s moon.  David Stevenson explained why: “It’s got people thinking about the direction we need to go to find a story that makes sense,” where story is the operative word.Daniel Clery spends some time reviewing all the theories since Apollo that have ended up on the trash heap, the impact theory being the latest.  “The giant impact has major problems,” Stevenson told his colleagues.  “It doesn’t produce the moon as seen.”  So much for all those simple-looking animations on TV.  None of the latest ideas are simple.  Jay Melosh remarked, “The solutions are contrived; they’re not natural.”Also falling onto the trash heap is the notion that isotope ratios vary with radius across the solar system.  Tossing that assumption opens up new plots for storytelling:That explains why at the London meeting, when the session chairs jokily asked each speaker what single measurement they would most like to perform, many said they would like to examine a piece of rock from the planet Venus. Venus is Earth’s rogue twin, and together the two planets contain 80% of the mass between the asteroid belt and the sun. If it turns out that Venus has very similar isotope ratios to Earth, then it is much more likely that an impactor might have had them as well. “Venus is the key,” Stevenson said.Since getting a piece of Venus from its hellish surface is highly challenging, this experiment won’t be done for some time.  Space.com gave the “Wild new theory” good press anyway, giving the impression that the storytellers are “still on the trail of the detailed scenario” with their notion that “Back then, there were still a lot of things whizzing around.”Not the Cambrian explosion, too:  Astrobiology Magazine asks, “Did a Huge Impact Lead to the Cambrian Explosion?”  Needless to say, even if a meteor hit the Earth way back when, it would say nothing about the origin of two dozen new animal body plans.  Most likely, it would have destroyed life instead.  It’s hard to know how anyone could take seriously the statement, “The ensuing environmental re-organization would have then set the stage for the emergence of complex life.”  What if they set a stage, and nobody showed up?  A stage setting is necessary, but not sufficient, to hold an intelligently-designed play.  The notion sounds like an act of desperation to counter the argument for intelligent design that Stephen Meyer presented in his new book, Darwin’s Doubt.  At least NASA got this right: “Animal life on Earth suddenly blossomed, with all of the major groups of animals alive today making their first appearance.”  Almost sounds like Genesis.See also the 9/23/13 entry, “Comet, Asteroid Impacts As the Answer to Everything.”As we have repeated often before, when one’s theory reduces to random actions for no particular reason, one has abandoned science.  If all one can say is “Stuff happens,” one has not explained anything.  The story is no better than one made up by a fiction writer or cartoonist.  What we observe is a smooth, well-differentiated Titan with a young atmosphere, and a moon around our Earth that supports life.  Those are the facts.  The most elegant explanation to be preferred, therefore, is one based on our common experience with ordered systems: that they were designed.  That should be seen as superior to invoking a “wild new theory” that depends on “a lot of things whizzing around” that somehow did a bang-up job of creating an orderly solar system, just because stuff happens, even though the stories are “contrived” and “not natural.”  Now who’s promoting pseudoscience?  Look how long the Mars-sized impact theory for the origin of the moon was bandied about in the media as the scientific explanation for the moon, and now they tell us it has “major problems.”  We don’t want scientists “jokily” asking each other what wild idea is next.  We want them to face reality: the Earth and its moon appear designed for life.  If they want to tell jokes, let them go into stand-up comedy instead.last_img read more

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Fifa gives Zuma his ref’s certificate

first_img30 June 2009In the unlikely event of an injury to a referee during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, South Africa has a ready replacement – in President Jacob Zuma, who’s just been given a special award by Fifa for refereeing on Robben Island during his years as a political prisoner.Zuma refereed for the Makana Football Association, which ran a soccer league for political prisoners on Robben Island, between 1965 and 1973.Fifa president Sepp Blatter conferred the special award on Zuma on Sunday, the final day of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup.“It is a historical moment for Fifa to have a former referee of Robben Island in Mr Jacob Zuma,” Blatter said. “As such, we have decided that you are an International Referee, and that is why we have prepared a special certificate for you.”“Thank you so much, I appreciate it,” Zuma replied. “This brings back memories of my young days, when I could still play and referee!”For years on Robben Island, political prisoners had to fight for the right to play football, with men secretly playing the game in their cells with balls made of pieces of paper, cardboard and rags tied together with string.The island’s authorities finally gave in, granting inmates the right to play football in 1965. The prisoners then built their own goals, and would swap their drab prison garb to play in the colours of their teams on Saturdays.The Makana FA was formed in 1966. It was a football association which adhered strictly to Fifa’s statutes and laws of the game. On 18 July 2007, Makana FA became the first Fifa honorary member association.Among the best players on the island were the likes of Kgalema Motlanthe, currently Deputy President of South Africa. Dikgang Moseneke, now a Constitutional Court judge, was on Makana FA’s disciplinary committee.SAinfo reporter and Fifa.comlast_img read more

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Why Microsoft Is Tying B&N’s Nook To Windows, Office And Bing

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A new job posting from Barnes & Noble indicates that the Nook e-reader will be tied into the Microsoft platform, including Windows, Office and the company’s Bing search engine. It’s an indication that e-books mean more than just another item to sell; they’re now a broader part of the content ecosystem.To date, little has been said about Microsoft’s $300 million investment into Barnes & Noble, which took place last June, to form a subsidiary company that would be jointly owned by both B&N and Microsoft. But the new job posting hints at least at what some of those “contractual obligations” might be.Specifically, the new “director of engineering, Windows 8” posting includes the following: “As the Barnes & Noble leader of the Microsoft Alliance, you will be responsible delivering on our contractual commitments on Windows 8 applications, Cloud, commerce, content integration with the Microsoft ecosystem and for defining and delivering on product strategy of Nook integration with Microsoft ecosystem including Windows, Office, Bing… You’ll lead a cross functional team of engineers in design, development, test, and deployment of a range of products on a Windows mobile 8 platform.”The posting was apparently first discovered by the Digital Reader blog.B&N’s New Family-Friendly NooksOn Wednesday, Barnes & Noble launched the new 7-inch Nook HD for $199 (8GB) and $229 (16 GB) as well as the 9-inch Nook HD+ for $269 (16 GB) and $299 (32 GB). Both tablets feature high-resolution screens, capable of challenging the newlyreleased updates to the Amazon Kindle; the Nook HD+ is capable of displaying full 1080p video on its 1920 x 1280 display, versus the 1280×800 HD screen used by the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.The new Nooks also include a family mode, which can reconfigure the screen from user to user, and lock out kids from using apps and visiting websites that aren’t age-appropriate. Just as Amazon has recognized that services are what will sell the tablet, Barnes & Noble appears to have taken personalization to heart.And just as Amazon’s cloud reader extends the company’s e-book services beyond the Kindle, it’s obvious that B&N plans to bring its Nook app to Windows 8, among other platforms. Barnes & Noble chief executive William Lynch told ABC News:“The most visible and first thing they [consumers] are going to see is a best in class reading application on Windows 8. Some of the things we are doing with our reading technology – the rendering of books, catalogs, magazines – we are going to bring that to Windows 8 form factors and the operating systems.”Windows 8 Tablets: Possible, But Not NowB&N’s new Nooks are all predicated upon the Android operating system; when asked if B&N would ever develop a full-fledged Windows 8 tablet, Lynch demurred, not surprisingly. And that’s probably the most appropriate response; a number of top-tier OEMs have already shown off their Windows 8 tablets, and Intel is gathering a number of partners in San Francisco on Thursday to essentially do it again. There’s still room for a true e-reader/tablet version of Windows 8, however, as Microsoft’s Surface boasts a 10.6-inch display, far larger than the form factors of the Nook.The Future: Services IntegrationWhat’s more likely, however, are closer ties between the Windows ecosystem and the Nook’s galaxy of e-books. The Nook app already allows a user to highlight a passage, add notes to it, or look it up on the Web. The latter is essentially a search function that will likely be tied to Bing. How that will occur on an Android devices remains to be seen – a standard webpage, perhaps.Microsoft’s recent investment into Mimvi indicates that Microsoft is investing into app discovery, which could provide some advantages to B&N, as well. Google allows you to search for a term and pull up related images, maps, shopping, news and more. Microsoft can deliver all of that, too, and appears to be stretching to add “apps” and “e-books” to the list.Incidentally, Google issued an update to Google Play Books on Tuesday which also added highlighting and notes, plus the ability to translate foreign passages. (Oddly, there isn’t a way to look up a highlighted passage on the Web or even cut and paste the information.)The last possibility is the most intriguing: self-publishing. In effect, Word’s ability to “save as PDF” allows a writer to “self publish” an e-book, and Amazon goes into a great deal of detail about how e-books should be formatted for publishing on the Amazon platform. But there’s really no easy, integrated way to get from Word to an e-book marketplace in one simple step, including B&N’s PubIt tool, which requires converting Word files to the ePub format. Integrating Office with the Nook reader or marketplace could fill that gap.What the Barnes & Noble job posting means is that e-books are no longer just a commodity to be bought and sold on a digital marketplace; they are a living, breathing form of content that can be searched, indexed and integrated into a broader content ecosystem. If Microsoft can in fact tie the Nook e-book marketplace to Word, then it can simply provide a quick and easy method of self-publishing. Microsoft truly will own the means of production. How Intelligent Data Addresses the Chasm in Cloud Tags:#cloud#E-Books#Microsoft Cloud Hosting for WordPress: Why Everyone is Mo…center_img Serverless Backups: Viable Data Protection for … Related Posts markhachmanlast_img read more

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