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crick's dna gives up

“ Francis Crick, who along with James Watson cracked the code for DNA, has died at Scripps Thornton Hospital [...].
He was 88.”

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studying killer ocean waves

“Once dismissed as a nautical myth, freakish ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-storey apartment blocks have been accepted as a leading cause of large ship sinkings. Results from ESA's ERS satellites helped establish the widespread existence of these 'rogue' waves and are now being used to study their origins.

“Severe weather has sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length during the last two decades. Rogue waves are believed to be the major cause in many such cases.”

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even microsoft deprecates microsoft explorer

“Are the Browser Wars Back?
How Mozilla's Firefox trumps Internet Explorer.”

I do hope nobody tells Bill what his group is publishing!
I shall watch this item to see whether it disappears!

What is remarkable is that, after many years of predatory actions by M$, actions which resulted in Netscape (the first incarnation of Mozilla) nearly disappearing, the Seattle kraken is having to admit that there is merit in its rival. For the first time since Microsoft started bundling their rushed-out mess of a browser ‘free’ with their operating system, Mozilla browsers are starting to regain market share, thanks to the panic after the latest Internet Explorer screw-up.

A convenient guide to Microsoft’s annus horribilis ”. One must remember, however, that even Mozilla is not invincible (this vulnerability affects the combination of MS XP with Mozilla Firefox or Thunderbird).

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spectacular images of saturn's rings
[with links to high-res. versions]

saturn's rings image credit: lasp, colorado university
image credit: LASP

saturn's rings image credit: lasp,colorado university
image credit: LASP
The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), developed by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP - University of Colorado), which is one of the 12 instruments on board the Cassini orbiter, has just sent back these amazing images.

“The instrument will measure ultraviolet light in the Saturnian system. Data from UVIS will provide information on the atmospheric composition and photochemistry of Saturn and Titan, and the nature and history of Saturn's rings.”

marker at science news at

From the European Space Agency, one of the three groups involved in the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn:

“The ring system begins from the inside out with the D, C, B and A rings followed by the F, G and E rings. The red areas in both images indicates sparser ringlets likely made of ‘dirty’, and possibly smaller, particles than in the denser, icier turquoise ringlets.”

The other two organisations are NASA and ASI, the Italian space agency. (Links to mission pages for Cassini.)

the web address for the article above is

smell and taste: systems in humans similar to systems in flies


“ The noses of humans and the antennae of insects contain many odor receptor proteins, but it was previously not known how the entire collection of receptors act together to encode olfactory information.

“Each fruit fly antenna has 32 odorant receptors, and Hallem and Carlson used a mutant fruit fly to determine their individual odor sensitivities. The antenna of their mutant fruit fly has an "empty" nerve cell, or neuron, that has lost its original odor receptor and does not respond to any odors.

“Using genetic engineering, Hallem and Carlson created a series of mutant flies, each with a different fruit fly odor receptor in the previously empty neuron. They then tested the engineered neuron in each fly for the odor sensitivity of the receptor.”


“ Though no one has mapped the taste areas inside mammal or human brains, other senses typically are mapped in the brain by location or quality, but not both. Odors, for example, are perceived by the brain according to what, not where, they are. Touch, on the other hand, is mapped to the brain according to its location on the skin.”

“ Scott said that the taste system of flies is much simpler than the smell or olfactory sensory system. The latter uses 50 different odor detectors to discriminate among thousands of smells, while the 68 taste receptors are reduced to only a few different taste categories in the fly brain. Taste is geared mainly to locating food and deciding whether or not to eat it, without any fine taste distinctions, she said.”

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