Monday, August 31, 2009


We find beauty in symmetry, but without a key piece of asymmetry, we wouldn't be around to appreciate the finer things. In the realm of particle collisions and quantum processes, antimatter is produced as often as ordinary matter. In fact, the big bang should have produced equal amounts of both—not a good thing, because each piece of antimatter would destroy an equal amount of matter. The big bang should thus have created universe of only light and energy, free of any solids, liquids or gases.

It's possible that the big bang did indeed create enough antimatter to create anti-suns, anti-planets, anti-galaxies and the like, and that they exist somewhere in separate pockets of the universe. But decades of observations of deep space make that possibility seem unlikely.

So, some sort of asymmetry occurred that skewed the universe's evolution toward matter. It would not have taken much—just one extra matter particle for every billion particle-antiparticle pairs. Researchers have discovered an asymmetry between the behavior of matter and of antimatter, called charge–parity violation, which could have skewed things to our side of the material world. But for this subtle bias to translate into an excess of matter, the primordial universe would have had to go through a wrenching period of imbalanced conditions, and so far no one knows how that might have happened.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


At some point after chimpanzees and humans diverged from a common ancestor six million years ago, we developed the capacity to talk—and to gossip, argue, complain and pontificate. But because soft tissue like the vocal cords, larynx, tongue, uvula and brain are not preserved in the fossil record, we don't know when our ancestors evolved the physical capacity to make speech or how long it took to develop.

Other animals can communicate—the alarm calls of prairie dogs to warn of a nearby predator, say, or the meowing of a hungry cat to tell its owner to put food down. But they lack the complexity and grammar of language. And how babies develop the capacity has been thoroughly debated without clear resolution. Maybe humans have an inborn "universal grammar," as Noam Chomsky asserts, or maybe it emerges as part of the general processing of our big brains and the surrounding culture.

In her book, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Languages (Viking 2007), Christine Kenneally asked several key researchers if a boatload of babies landed on a desert island, would they develop language? Almost all agreed that they would develop some form of communication, but they disagreed if a fully formed, "normal" language would emerge.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


In the late 1980s physicists were astounded by the electrical behavior of ceramic compounds based on copper oxides. These materials could conduct electricity without resistance well above the temperature of liquid nitrogen (77 kelvins, or –196 degrees Celsius). Previously, superconductivity occurred only in metals cooled to near absolute zero (–273 degrees C). (The image shows a magnet levitated by the powerful magnetic field of opposite polarity generated by a copper-oxide superconductor cooled by liquid nitrogen.)

The relatively high transition temperature seen in the copper oxides revolutionized the field and forced physicists to reconsider the accepted cause of superconductivity, called the BCS theory. It posited that the supercurrent occurred when electrons paired up. One electron moving through the substance would slightly pull together the material's positively charged crystal lattice, leaving a wake of slightly denser positive charge behind it; a second electron would be attracted to this wake. In this way, these so-called Cooper pairs of electrons became weakly bound together, and a sea of them could flow through the lattice without losing energy. But the theory also predicted that, above about 30 K, ambient heat would cause the lattice to vibrate too much, destabilizing the Cooper pairs.

The copper oxides, which can superconduct at temperatures reaching 164 K under the right circumstances, clearly indicated that a new theory was needed. Cooper pairs were still being formed, but just what brought and kept them together has eluded definitive explanation. The discovery of iron-based superconductors, which also function well above absolute zero but below the copper oxides, could provide some essential clues.

Friday, August 28, 2009



Influenza and cold weather go hand in hand in temperate zones: In the Northern Hemisphere the flu season typically begins in November and runs to April. But flu viruses themselves circulate year-round. They show little seasonality in the tropics, and new strains can emerge during the warmer months, as the H1N1 swine flu did this year.

Researchers have come up with many possible reasons to explain why nonpandemic flu viruses take hold only at certain times of the year. Cool, dry air seems to help the virus survive on surfaces. Lack of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, may leave the immune systems of people weaker during winter, perhaps paving the way for infections. In chilly weather, too, people tend to stay indoors and crowd together in schools and offices, boosting the odds of person-to-person transmission. Indoor heating systems could also play a role, transporting coughed aerosols to distant areas of buildings.

The reasons sound plausible, but little research has actually gone into supporting or rejecting the theories. In a 2007 review on influenza seasonality, Eric Lofgren of the Tufts University School of Medicine and his colleagues wrote that seasonality is likely to be the result of "less-than-straightforward interaction of many different factors."

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Other studies have shown that words that are used to express balance or nuance (“except,” “but,” and so on) are associated with higher cognitive complexity, better grades and even the truthfulness with which facts are reported. For bin Laden, analysis showed that the thought processes in his texts had reached a higher level over the years, whereas those of his lieutenant had stagnated.

Healing Words
This power of statistical analysis to quantify a person’s changing language use over time is a key advantage to programs such as LIWC. In 2003 Pennebaker and statistician R. Sherlock Campbell, now at Yale University, used a statistical tool called latent semantic analysis (LSA) to study the diary entries of trauma patients from three earlier studies, looking for text characteristics that had changed in patients who were convalescing and met rarely with their physician. Again, the researchers showed that content was unimportant. The factor that was most clearly associated with recovery was the use of pronouns. Patients whose writings changed perspective from day to day were less likely to seek medical treatment during the follow-up period.

It may be that patients who describe their situation both from their own viewpoint and from the perspective of others recover more quickly from traumatic experiences—a variation on the already well-established idea that writing about negative experiences is therapeutic. Or perhaps the LSA simply detected the patients’ recovery as reflected by their writing but not brought about by it—in that case, programs such as LIWC could aid doctors in diagnosing illness and gauging treatment progression. Researchers are currently investigating many other patient groups, including those with cancer, mental illness and suicidal tendencies, using LIWC to uncover clues about their emotional well-being and their mental state.

Although the statistical study of language is relatively young, it is clear that analyzing patterns of word use and writing style can lead to insights that would otherwise remain hidden. Because these tools offer predictions based on probability, however, such insights will never be definitive. “In the final analysis, our situation is much like that of economists,” Pennebaker says. “It’s too early to come up with a standardized analysis. But at the end of the day, we all are making educated guesses, the same way economists can understand, explain and predict economic ups and downs.”

He Said, She Said
The way we write and speak can reveal volumes about our identity and character. Here is a sampling of the many variables that can be detected in our use of style-related words such as pronouns and articles:

Gender: In general, women tend to use more pronouns and references to other people. Men are more likely to use articles, prepositions and big words. Age: As people get older, they typically refer to themselves less, use more positive-emotion words and fewer negative-emotion words, and use more future-tense verbs and fewer past-tense verbs. Honesty: When telling the truth, people are more likely to use first-person singular pronouns such as “I.” They also use exclusive words such as “except” and “but.” These words may indicate that a person is making a distinction between what they did do and what they did not do—liars often do not deal well with such complex constructions. Depression and suicide risk: Public figures and published poets use more first-person singular pronouns when they are depressed or suicidal, possibly indicating excessive self-absorption and social isolation. Reaction to trauma: In the days and weeks after a cultural upheaval, people use “I” less and “we” more, suggesting a social bonding effect.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


No one doubts that the words we write or speak are an expression of our inner thoughts and personalities. But beyond the meaningful content of language, a wealth of unique insights into an author’s mind are hidden in the style of a text—in such elements as how often certain words and word categories are used, regardless of context.

It is how an author expresses his or her thoughts that reveals character, asserts social psychologist James W. Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin. When people try to present themselves a certain way, they tend to select what they think are appropriate nouns and verbs, but they are unlikely to control their use of articles and pronouns. These small words create the style of a text, which is less subject to conscious manipulation.

Pennebaker’s statistical analyses have shown that these small words may hint at the healing progress of patients and give us insight into the personalities and changing ideals of public figures, from political candidates to terrorists. “Virtually no one in psychology has realized that low-level words can give clues to large-scale behaviors,” says Pennebaker, who, with colleagues, developed a computer program that analyzes text, called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC, pronounced “Luke”). The software has been used to examine other speech characteristics as well, tallying up nouns and verbs in hundreds of categories to expose buried patterns.

Character Count
Most recently, Pennebaker and his colleagues used LIWC to analyze the candidates’ speeches and interviews during last fall’s presidential election. The software counts how many times a speaker or author uses words in specific categories, such as emotion or perception, and words that indicate complex cognitive processes. It also tallies up so-called function words such as pronouns, articles, numerals and conjunctions. Within each of these major categories are subsets: Are there more mentions of sad or happy emotions? Does the speaker prefer “I” and “me” to “us” and “we”? LIWC answers these quantitative questions; psychologists must then figure out what the numbers mean. Before LIWC was developed in the mid-1990s, years of psychological research in which people counted words by hand established robust connections between word usage and psychological states or character traits

The political candidates, for example, showed clear differences in their speaking styles. John McCain tended to speak directly and personally to his constituency, using a vocabulary that was both emotionally loaded and impulsive. Barack Obama, in contrast, made frequent use of causal relationships, which indicated more complex thought processes. He also tended to be more vague than his Republican rival. Pennebaker’s team has posted a far more in-depth breakdown, including analyses of the vice presidential candidates, at

Skeptics of LIWC’s usefulness point out that many of these characteristics of McCain’s and Obama’s speeches could be gleaned without the use of a computer program. When the subjects of analysis are not accessible, however, LIWC may provide a unique insight. Such was the case with Pennebaker’s study of al Qaeda communications. In 2007 he and several co-workers, under contract with the FBI, analyzed 58 texts by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s second in command.

The comparison showed how much pronouns are able to disclose. For example, between 2004 and 2006 the frequency with which al-Zawahiri used the word “I” tripled, whereas it remained constant in bin Laden’s writings. “Normally, higher rates of ‘I’ words correspond with feelings of insecurity, threat and defensiveness. Closer inspection of his ‘I’ use in context tends to confirm this,” Pennebaker says.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


In a world where everything seems to fall under the opinions and the actions of others, there seem to be little hope for the average person who is a follower. Leaders are in abundance and they seem to survive because there are those who will always be teamplayers. But what happens when the follower decides it is time to lead, it is time to make a mark in life, it is time to BE??

Trust me, that is when all hell breaks loose and that is when conflicts begin.

There will always be those who believe that they are to be leaders forever and that all that they do is right and must be followed. These leaders cannot for one second accept that sometimes it would be nice to sit back and let others run the show. They cannot for one minute aceept that the world will still turn whether or not they are in it, leading, guiding, listening or doing nothing.

Picture the leader who suddenly is faced with the realization that his follower(s) want to make a mark of their own. Why do they get upset? Because the idea of losing power and control, of being the head at the top of each and every decision leaves them worrying that they will have no place in the community!! When I say community, I am referring to whereever it is that he or she has ruled.

I have been known to be a leader for many years. I have led and I have conquered many in battles of undefined and defined nature. I have also been a teamplayer and lately I have decided that it is time to be a leader again. Time to BE!!! Time to BE ASSERTIVE. Time to GROW. Time to take up the reins of leadership and do that which I was born for - to lead. Will this be greeted with open arms by all. NO WAY!!! But who cares? Everyone has to BE! Everyone has to DO! Everyone has to... because only then will fulfillment be attained for oneself.


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Annie's Mailbox
Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: I am a college student and have been dating a nice guy for almost a year. Unfortunately, "Cody" is more into our relationship than I am. I have my reasons (Cody made some major mistakes that my heart has looked past, but my head has not), but what makes matters worse is I am deeply "in like" with a friend of Cody's. I believe this friend feels the same about me.

I've been in relationships since I was 15. I think it might be best, if and when I break things off with Cody, that I remain single for a while. On the other hand, I am deeply worried that if I wait, I will miss out on this wonderful man. I feel awful for everyone involved and hope there is something you can tell me that would help. -- Bummed in Boston

Dear Bummed: You have multiple things going on. First, you need to break off the relationship with Cody. You don't love him, you are unable to forgive him for whatever it was he did in the past, and you are interested in someone else. Then you need to give your social life a rest, not only to see what it's like to be on your own, but because it's very bad form to go after Cody's friend so quickly. If the guy is interested and sees that you haven't attached yourself to anyone else, he will come knocking when enough time has passed.

Dear Annie: My daughter was infected with herpes by her boyfriend. They have since broken up. Her doctor said it most likely was transmitted via oral sex.

She is still in the initial stages of coping emotionally, and I am doing my best to help her believe that in time things will not seem so terrible. I know she is afraid of the day when she has to tell a new boyfriend. I've told her that anyone who loves her will educate himself and give the relationship a chance, but I understand how painful and discouraging a rejection would be, especially if it happens more than once.

Would you please ask your readers who have found themselves in the same situation to share their experiences? Nothing I can tell her would have as much impact as hearing from people who have been there. -- A Sad Mom

Dear Mom: Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. has herpes, so your daughter has plenty of company, and we are certain our readers will weigh in with their experiences. In the meantime, contact the American Social Health Association (1-800-227-8922) at for information, support and suggestions on dealing with herpes -- including how to talk about it with a new romantic interest.

Dear Annie: Twice recently, you misused the abbreviation "i.e.," so I thought I would try to straighten the matter out.

What you have done is use "i.e." when "e.g." was intended. The abbreviation "i.e." is a complete enumeration of ALL possibilities. It stands for "id est," meaning "that is," which infers a complete list of what items answer the condition. But if the intent was to list a few examples, "e.g." is the correct term. It is an abbreviation of "exempli gratia," meaning "for example," or "example given," and lists representative items.

When you told "Wife of a Motor Mouth" to interest her husband in a hobby and added "i.e., photography or crafts that he can display," you implied that there were no other choices. Using "e.g." would have left the door open for thousands of other possibilities. -- Larry in Bakersfield, Calif.

Dear Larry: Thanks for hauling us up short. As another Latin expert once informed us, nostra culpa is the correct way to say "We're sorry." We often see and hear "i.e." applied to mean "for example" and had no idea it was incorrect. We'll try to keep it straight in the future.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Event gives firefighters chance to shine


WINDSOR, Ontario (UPI) -- A Firefest spokesman says the annual competition in Windsor, Ontario, gives firefighters a chance to show off their unique skill sets.

Firefest spokesman David Bellamy said festival participants are required to don their heavy firefighting gear and attempt to set record paces while carrying a fire hose up a five-story building, The Windsor Star said.

Participants are required to pull a separate hose to the roof of the building, before moving a heavy steel beam with a sledgehammer, hitting a target with water from a fire house and carrying a mannequin across the finish line.

Bellamy said the grueling event not only gives firefighters an opportunity to show off their skills, but also allows members of the public to witness firsthand what firefighters do on the job.

"Their job is not easy to do. They're running in when we're running out of a bad situation," he told the Star. "It takes a specific set of physical and mental talents."

The winner of Saturday's 2009 Firefest competition was Brandon Cunningham of Augusta, Ga., who completed the exhausting firefighter routine in a world course record of 1.17.31 minutes.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shakira´s She Wolf

Click on the link and then click on the play square when it takes you to the screen. Enjoy!!!

Shakira - She Wolf lyrics |

Monday, August 17, 2009


DJ cleans poo for botched TP prank

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (UPI) -- A Florida disc jockey whose attempt to toilet paper his mayor's house was foiled by bad directions paid penance for the prank by cleaning a city sewage plant.

Jason Pennington, a DJ with WILD-FM, West Palm Beach, agreed to clean the septic tank acceptance station at the East Central Regional Water Reclamation Facility as punishment for the toilet paper episode, which went awry when an address mix-up left a neighbor being toilet papered instead of West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, The Palm Beach Post reported.

The punishment, which was filmed for posterity by WILD intern Annabel DeSito, lasted five minutes.

Pennington said he had intended to cover Frankel's house in the Presidential Estates gated community in 28 rolls of toilet paper, but wound up covering a neighbor's house, car and trees because he didn't check the address.

Heather Nelson, producer of the station's Wild Morning Show, said Pennington and morning crew co-hosts Kevin Rolston and Virginia Lang targeted the mayor's house because of alleged vote rigging in a dance contest she won this year over fellow competitor Lang, who did not place in the final rankings.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Un tortugo de 110 años finalmente conquistó a la hembra que lo evitó los últimos 15 años. Y la preñó.
¡Persevera y triunfarás! Quince años le tomó a Billy, de 110, conquistar a Tammy, de 47. El dueño de la feliz pareja, Peter Crane, fue quien encontró los huevos. Explicó que el tortugo persiguió por el jardín sin éxito a la huidiza Tammy durante los últimos tres lustros.

Un detalle romántico: si bien cada tortuga vivía en su propia caja se han mudado ambos a una de ellas como una feliz pareja. Billy -nacido en 1899- es una tortuga vivaracha (si se me permite el oxímoron) y espera con entusiasmo (si es que fuera posible detectarlo) la llegada de los dulces tortuguitos (dentro de los límites de dulzura inherentes a un ser verde, frío, duro por fuera y blandito por dentro).

Moraleja: para ser capaz de fecundar después de los 100 (años, no kilómetros por hora, por favor) no hay nada como una dieta vegetariana y una vida sin stress.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Like any proud Grandma, today I take time to say Happy Birthday to my granddaughter, Ciarra Alexandria Thompson on her 7th Birthday.

My little Princess Aurora II is 7 years old and following in her grandma´s steps by being a dancer, a talker and a very intelligent little girl.

I love you baby girl.

From Princess Aurora I
(Grandma Brenda)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Speedy motorcyclist caught at last

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (UPI) -- Police in Alaska said they have arrested a motorcyclist who evaded capture repeatedly by driving at speeds approaching 130 mph.

Investigators said Justin Carr, 23, was charged with a felony count of evading police after several incidents in which he allegedly drove his yellow Suzuki motorcycle past police in Anchorage at high speeds and refused to pull over, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Trooper Ronald Hayes said he caught a glimpse of the motorcyclist during a June incident, and the face he saw was Carr's.

"This guy almost actively sought us out," Hayes said. "Anytime he would see any type of law enforcement vehicle or anything like that, he would take off."

Hayes said further charges against Carr are possible once a grand jury convenes in early August.

Anchorage police had sought the public's health in finding the speedy motorcyclist after a series of chases, and hundreds of tips poured in.

Carr's driving record includes numerous tickets, the Daily News reported.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International