And so cute, too…


Click to enlarge

Baby spider (Carrhotus xanthogramma juvenile)/Pierre Anquet

“No one knows, incidentally, why Australia’s spiders are so extravagantly toxic; capturing small insects and injecting them with enough poison to drop a horse would appear to be the most literal case of overkill. Still, it does mean that everyone gives them lots of space.”

Bill Bryson, “In a Sunburned Country” (2001)

Scientists Find the Oldest Material on Earth — it ain’t from here!


Click to enlargeMurchison Meteorite

Earth formed alongside the rest of the solar system roughly 4.6 billion years ago. The oldest rocks we’ve found to date are about 4.03 billion years old, but the oldest earth minerals ever discovered were actually found in lunar samples and date to about 4.1 billion years.

Now, scientists believe they’ve discovered the oldest material ever found on Earth: microscopic specs of dust pulled from meteorite dated at 7.5 billion years old, according to research published January 13 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…

The meteorite in which the grains were found is one of the most well-studied meteorites on Earth. The 220-pound Murchison meteorite plummeted to Victoria, Australia on September 28, 1969. (There were witnesses, too—a rare treat for studied meteorites.) It’s a type of meteorite called a carbonaceous chondrite…

The scientists took a small sample of the extraterrestrial rock and crushed it into a fine powder for analysis. They then turned it into a paste, which, according to the BBC, smells like rotten peanut butter. The grains were then dissolved out and dated using an isotope of the element neon, Ne-21.

RTFA. A milestone.

Confirming my wife’s theory there are 5 – not 4 – basic elements to the universe. Air, earth, fire, water…and peanut butter.

Lithium-Sulfur Battery Could Quadruple Battery Life

Researchers at Australia’s Monash University have developed what they’re calling “the world’s most efficient lithium-sulphur (Li-S) battery,” an ultra-high-capacity design that could quadruple camera battery life and run a smartphone for 5 consecutive days without a charge.

The Monash team, led by Dr. Mahdokht Shaibani, has reason to be optimistic. Their design already has an approved patent, prototypes have already been manufactured in Germany, and “some of the world’s largest producers of lithium batteries” have apparently expressed interest in upscaling production.

…The new Li-S design seems to offer the best of all worlds: boasting four-times the performance of the best Li-Ion batteries on the market while significantly decreasing the environmental impact of manufacturing. And while the main examples given in the announcement are phones (5 day battery life) and electric cars (1000km/621-mile range), the potential applications in all consumer electronics…are obvious.

I’m waiting, I’m waiting!

Thanks, Honeyman

Oz Judge Rules Farting at Your Employees Isn’t Bullying

❝ An Australian appeals court on Friday dismissed a bullying case brought by an engineer who accused his former supervisor of repeatedly breaking wind toward him.

The Victoria state court of appeal upheld a supreme court judge’s ruling that even if engineer David Hingst’s allegations were true, flatulence did not necessarily constitute bullying…

❝ He had sought $1.8m in a suit against his former employer Construction Engineering, but a judge blasted the case out of the supreme court last year.

Hingst applied to appeal the case, saying “flatulence was a form of bullying” and his ex-colleague Greg Short was a serial farter…

❝ The court of appeal ruled against Hingst on Friday, refusing to grant him leave to appeal and ordering him to pay the defendant’s legal costs…

In response, Hingst promised to take the case further. “I’m taking it to the high court,” he told the judges.

I worked at a firm for a short while where there actually was a similar struggle. El Primo used to think it was funny to sneak up behind this one employee and drop a blue bomber fierce enough that even folks a desk or two away had to get up and move.

The final confrontation was classic, though. The target dude had made up his mind to quit. Had another job lined up. Now, one thing consistent about the boss was that he always had to dash into the men’s room and variously relieve himself as soon as he arrived at work. Don’t know what he had for breakfast; but, it was “active”.

Our victim arrived early his last day before leaving – smiling and looking a little cramped. He’d eaten a very early breakfast of anchovies and hard-boiled eggs and topped it off with a can of beans stewed with prunes. He managed to stay out of our little one-holer office crapper till he spotted the man himself pull into the parking lot. Ran into the bathroom, locking himself in – followed by thunderous thumps – and no flushing…

The boss rips in through the door and heads straight for the bathroom. Hammers on the door for a minute or two till our hero finally steps out with a smile and with a sweeping bow, sends him into the tiny room. Slams the door and locks it from the outside.

Said his goodbyes to all of us and left through the front door. Taking the crapper key with him. By the time we got a locksmith in to unlock and open the door – El Bosso was found lying on the floor in a puddle of his own vomit. Dazed, semi-conscious, completely unaware of our laughter.

Reporter spent 3 years undercover to expose the NRA, right wing in Oz

❝ As part of Al Jazeera’s elaborate infiltration of the United States’ gun lobby, I assumed the role of a gun advocate, pretending to campaign for a repeal of Australia’s rigid, gun control laws, and pretending that I wanted more firearms in the hands of Australian citizens.

In fact, I disagree with all of those things. I believe the gun lobby’s efforts to conceal the truth, which concerns public safety and constitutional rights, should be brought to light.

❝ That is why I chose to take part in this undercover investigation…

❝ …I’d never worn a hidden camera or claimed to love guns. In fact, I’d only fired a gun a few times on a friend’s farm. I didn’t know a Glock from Luger and I’d never seen an assault rifle.

That didn’t matter, Peter Charley said. He was looking for someone with the ability to “work a room” and knowledge of people, business and finance. I would be trained thoroughly in the journalistic requirements, as well as the handling of guns.

❝ So, I was in.

RTFA. I’ve known folks who performed similar tasks for the civil rights movement…including one brave young man who infiltrated the KKK. Dangerous is the minimal description of the job.

David Goodall arrived in Switzerland, today — to die

❝ A 104-year-old Australian scientist arrived Monday in Switzerland before his planned assisted suicide, unbowed about his intentions and hopeful that his premeditated death will send a message to legislators back home…

“I am glad to arrive,” Goodall said from a wheelchair. “The message I would like to send is: Once one passes the age of 50 or 60, one should be free to decide for oneself whether one wants to go on living or not.”

❝ Lucid and humorous, Goodall reiterated his frustration about not being as free or as mobile in his later life as he once was. While not suffering from a terminal illness, he said he hoped his trip to take his own life in Switzerland — which allows assisted suicide, unlike Australia — would change legislators’ minds one day…

Goodall is expected to meet Tuesday with a doctor who will assess his mindset and hold another news conference on Wednesday. On Thursday, he plans to swallow a lethal cocktail of chemicals, ending his life.

More power to you, Doctor Goodall. I agree with your right to make such a determination. I consider it likely I’ll be making a similar choice some day or other. Especially living in a nation where the medical-industrial complex assures its political and economic power courtesy of primitive belief systems – and Congress.