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X-2005: 02 03 07 11 19 21 XI-2005: 08 08-2

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alleged forensic evidence

“The paper pointed out that when one looked at 86 cases where later DNA evidence freed or exonerated convicted criminals, the second leading cause of error after eyewitness mistake was forensic science testing errors. These were singled out in 63 per cent of cases.

“Just as damning were the 27 per cent of the cases where false or misleading evidence by forensic scientists was seen as a reason the wrong person got put away.

“Forensics' biggest problem appears to be the ego of its experts. What they don't want to tell juries is how error-prone their supposedly liar-proof evidence is. Remember those damning bite marks on a CSI victim's neck? Matching them to a potential criminal biter only produces a correct correlation 64 per cent of the time, reported the Science paper. Supposed matches of the handwriting on threatening letters to the scribbles of a suspect are wrong anywhere from 40 to 100 per cent of the time.

“And even forensic TV's evidentiary pop star - the aha-we-got-you-now fingerprint match - can be misidentified up to 20 per cent of the time.”

related material
cause, chance and Bayesian statistics

the web address for the article above is

the France Zone at
Economics and money zone at




new animation package under trial

QuickTime movie demo [10Mb]

“K-Sketch will allow ordinary computer users to create informal animations from sketches” [Quoted from DuB]

pdf 4-page description

“We are designingK-Sketch, an informal 2D animation tool that uses sketching and demonstration to radically reduce the time needed to create an animation.”

the web address for the article above is

space elevator challenge

“Space travel is relatively cheap compared with the cost of leaving Earth. The space shuttle, for instance, burns more than half a million gallons of fuel blasting into orbit, making every pound of payload cost $10,000. Now the nonprofit Spaceward Foundation, with a $400,000 grant from NASA, hopes to fast-track the technology to reach space on the cheap, without rockets.

related material
wanted - long, strong string

the web address for the article above is

secret codes embedded in your printer output

“With the Xerox printers, the information appears as a pattern of yellow dots, each only a millimeter wide and visible only with a magnifying glass and a blue light.

“The EFF said it has identified similar coding on pages printed from nearly every major printer manufacturer, including Hewlett-Packard Co., though its team has so far cracked the codes for only one type of Xerox printer.

“The U.S. Secret Service acknowledged yesterday that the markings, which are not visible to the human eye, are there, but it played down the use for invading privacy.”

the web address for the article above is

japanese supersonic test flight works this time

“Japan’s space agency today completed the first successful test of a [scaled] prototype jet that can fly at twice the speed of sound, three years after an earlier test ended in a fiery wreck in the Australian Outback [...]” [Quoted from]

The Japanese supersonic transport in test flight. Image credit:
The Japanese supersonic transport in test flight. Image credit:

Test flight movie: 20M MPEG / Quicktime or 3.1M MWV / RealPlayer.

“A scale model of an airliner that would carry 300 passengers at twice the speed of sound was launched from the Woomera test site in the outback with the aid of a rocket shortly after dawn, [...]

“In the test, the 11.5m scale model of the 104m aircraft separated from the rocket at around 18,000m and glided at Mach 2 (2,450km/h) for about 15 minutes.

“[...] The multi-million dollar test aircraft landed safely by parachute.” [Quoted from]

Only problem is, a commercial version could be 15 years away and then how much fossil fuels will be available to power such a machine?

related material
replacing fossil fuels - the scale of the problem

the web address for the article above is

update - the results: autonomous cross-country racing - by robots

“Four robotic vehicles finished a Pentagon-sponsored race across the Mojave desert Saturday and achieved a technological milestone by conquering steep drop-offs, obstacles and tunnels over a rugged 132-mile course without a single human command.”

  1. Customized Volkswagen (Stanley), Stanford University
  2. Hummer (H1ghlander), Carnegie Mellon University
  3. Humvee ( Sandstorm), Carnegie Mellon University
  4. Ford Escape Hybrid, students in Metarie, Louisiana

    “The race announcer did not immediately declare a winner because 22 of the 23 robots left the starting line at staggered times at dawn, racing against the clock rather than each other. Stanley finished in less than 7 1/2 hours.

    “Race officials planned to resume the race Sunday so the sole remaining vehicle, a mammoth six-wheel truck, could compete in daylight.”

autonomous cross-country racing - by robots

  • Prize: US$2-million
  • Sponsor: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) - the Pentagon
  • Location: Primm, Nevada
  • Course:
    • 175 miles/ 282 kilometres
    • time limit: 10 hours
    • rough, roadless, Mojave Desert
    • tunnels
    • mountainous climbs
  • When: 8 October, 2005
  • 23 finalists (from 195 applicants) entered by :
    • 10 universities – CalTech, Cornell, Ohio State, UCLA, Princeton, Stanford, with two from Carnegie-Mellon and from Virginia Tech
    • 13 other groups - corporations, auto clubs, high school students...
  • Contestant conditions:
    • no passengers
    • no radio signals [except GPS system, which is needed for navigation]

    “Each vehicle will be followed by a DARPA judge in a car, equipped with an emergency shutoff switch that can disable the robotic competitor in the event of serious danger.” [Quoted from With images]

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“In last year's trials, some robots failed even to make it off the starting line, but 2005 saw more than half the competitors tear through the 4-kilometre [preliminary] test course in as little as ten minutes. [Quoted from With images]

Short video movie of trials [Windows Media Player].

the web address for the article above is

science, populism, katrina and global warming

the slow corruption of a scientist by the fossil media

“So you've gotten over your fear of adjectives?

“Well, I recently used the word "searing" in reference to heat, and spoke of the "crushing intensity" of hurricanes, which for me, two years ago, would have seemed so irresponsible. I've come to terms with the fact that droughts, hurricanes, heat waves, and so on are awful things, and it's not misleading to portray them as such. It's kind of beautiful to be able to use words in a way that I was never really given the opportunity to before.”

The science is very complex -

“[...] You have to ask, for instance, whether global warming will increase wind shear, which could in turn choke off storm formation. Before concluding that global warming is going to give way to an era of super-hurricanes, you have to ask, how is it going to affect all the ingredients that go into hurricane formation, not just sea temperatures.”

Science and politics -

“[...] We also pointed out that the scientific community has been predicting a Katrina-like scenario in the Gulf Coast region for decades, literally, regardless of global warming. There was tremendous sadness but very little surprise among my colleagues when it hit. The shock is really that officials and the public didn't heed scientists' repeated warnings and bolster the infrastructure of New Orleans many years ago. As I see it, Katrina is a warning that scientific predictions need to be better integrated into the public discourse and play a bigger role in America's long-term thinking and planning.”

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“In the 1970s, no ocean basin saw more than 25 percent of hurricanes become a 4 or 5. Today, that percentage is 34, 35, and 41 percent, respectively, in the South Indian, East Pacific, and West Pacific oceans. The biggest jump was in the Southwestern Pacific, from 8 percent to 25 percent.

“Emanuel, who formerly doubted that hurricane intensity was tied to global warming, said that he was stunned when his research showed that just that half-degree rise in tropical ocean temperatures has also seen a 50 percent rise in average storm peak winds in the North Atlantic and East and West Pacific in the last half century.

“The accumulated annual duration of storms in the North Atlantic and the western North Pacific has shot up by 60 percent.”

“But Max Mayfield, director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, testified this week before a Senate committee that increased hurricane activity ''is due to natural fluctuations" and is ''not enhanced substantially by global warming.” {Quoted from]

related material
global warming

the web address for the article above is

ring around the moon - annular eclipse in europe and africa, 3 october morning

“Annular Eclipse of the Sun visible along a narrow path from parts of Portugal, Spain, and North and East Africa from about 8:50 to 11:15 UT. Partial solar eclipse visible from Europe, Africa, and South Asia.”

route of the October 3 2005 annular eclipse. Image credit:
route of the October 3 2005 annular eclipse. Image credit: NASA/GSFC

“An annular eclipse differs from a total eclipse in that the Moon [is] too small to completely cover the Sun. As a result, the Moon is surrounded by an intensely brilliant ring [of fire] or annulus formed by the uneclipsed outer perimeter of the Sun's disk. The solar corona is not visible during annular eclipses.” {Quoted from NASA/GSFC, courtesy of Fred Espenak]

Page showing what sort of eclipse will be seen in different locations along the route.

Weather table for the annular eclipse [.pdf file]

There is a rather technical page about this eclipse at NASA/GSFC.

Remember, NEVER look directly at the sun with the naked eye or, even more foolishly, through a simple telescope or binoculars. You must use appropriate and adequate safety equipment, such as solar filters, or appropriate viewing methods. One method is to use a pinhole in a large card to project the Sun's image onto a surface.
It is not possible to improvise and it is dangerous to try.
Obtain advice from your local optical suppliers or astronomy club.
the web address for the article above is
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