Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Links!

Enjoy as you frantically compile your holiday gift lift.

First, a link that should really be in a Console Post of the Week, but I'm leading with it here instead. From Stefan Stirzaker, a story about how occupational therapists are now using the Wii as physical therapy.

From Sirius, a link to many other links: the Cabinet-of-Wonders gift guide. There are a TON of interesting links there, so follow as desired.

From Cliff Eyler, a link to an amazing discovery. Whales, it seems descended from a "deer-like animal" that lived 48 million years ago. Here's an excerpt:
Remains found in the Kashmir region of India suggest the fox-sized mammal is the long-sought land-based ancestor of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Whales are known to be descended from land-dwellers but the "missing link" has been a mystery until now.

Also of interest in the story is a mention of how closely whales are related to hippos.

From Rob, a link to a story about how scientists believe they have discovered the energy source of the Northern Lights. Here's an excerpt:
New data from NASA's Themis mission, a quintet of satellites launched this winter, found the energy comes from a stream of charged particles from the sun flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Earth's upper atmosphere to the sun.

Here's a second link from Rob, this one to a story about "locked-in syndrom." It's a form of paralysis, and here's an excerpt:
This condition is not the same as other forms of paralysis where you feel nothing in the affected areas. Ramsey has 100 percent sensation all over his body. An itch can become excruciating with no way to communicate that he needs it scratched. He has frequent muscle spasms as well, which can be painful.

Remarkably, scientists are working on a device which would allow people afflicted with this syndrome to communicate.

From Brian Pritchard, a link to a fact sheet about the Voyager Planetary Mission. It's full of information about the history of the Voyager mission, and here's an excerpt:
The Voyager mission was designed to take advantage of a rare geometric arrangement of the outer planets in the late 1970s and the 1980s which allowed for a four-planet tour for a minimum of propellant and trip time. This layout of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, which occurs about every 175 years, allows a spacecraft on a particular flight path to swing from one planet to the next without the need for large onboard propulsion systems. The flyby of each planet bends the spacecraft's flight path and increases its velocity enough to deliver it to the next destination. Using this "gravity assist" technique, first demonstrated with NASA's Mariner 10 Venus/Mercury mission in 1973-74, the flight time to Neptune was reduced from 30 years to 12.

Here's an outstanding link for the passive-agressive in all of us. It's Passive Aggressive Notes, and it's exactly what you'd think it would be.

From Marty Devine, a story about the apparent discovery of Captain Kidd's pirate ship. Here's an excerpt:
Complete with cannons and anchors, the wreckage of the 400-ton Quedagh Merchant has lain untouched and undiscovered off the coast of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic.

...Charles Beeker, a scuba-diving archaeologist who teaches at Indiana University, said: "When I first looked down and saw it, I couldn't believe everybody missed it for 300 years. I've been on thousands of wrecks and this is one of the first where it's been untouched by looters.

From David Gloier, a story about a new theory concerning wooly mammoths and their extinction. The new suspect? Trees. Here's an excerpt:
It all comes down to food. Mammoths thrived most in large areas of frozen grassland. Around 10,000 years ago, temperatures started to rise. The frozen grasslands where the animals lived and fed started to be replaced by forests expanding from the warmer climates. No more frozen grasslands meant no more food.

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