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Archive for December 14th, 2008

The bouncing universe

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Interesting article in New Scientist begins:

Abhay Ashtekar remembers his reaction the first time he saw the universe bounce. “I was taken aback,” he says. He was watching a simulation of the universe rewind towards the big bang. Mostly the universe behaved as expected, becoming smaller and denser as the galaxies converged. But then, instead of reaching the big bang “singularity”, the universe bounced and started expanding again. What on earth was happening?

Ashtekar wanted to be sure of what he was seeing, so he asked his colleagues to sit on the result for six months before publishing it in 2006. And no wonder. The theory that the recycled universe was based on, called loop quantum cosmology (LQC), had managed to illuminate the very birth of the universe – something even Einstein’s general theory of relativity fails to do.

LQC has been tantalising physicists since 2003 with the idea that our universe could conceivably have emerged from the collapse of a previous universe. Now the theory is poised to make predictions we can actually test. If they are verified, the big bang will give way to a big bounce and we will finally know the quantum structure of space-time. Instead of a universe that emerged from a point of infinite density, we will have one that recycles, possibly through an eternal series of expansions and contractions, with no beginning and no end.

LQC is in fact the first tangible application of another theory called …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2008 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Science

Archimedes and the 2000-year-old computer

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2008 at 1:14 pm

Pasta with Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant and Yogurt Sauce

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lamb-pasta

As soon as I clean up the kitchen, I’m making this recipe:

1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, in 1/2 -inch cubes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, more to taste
3 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Turkish or Aleppo (see note), more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill, more to taste
1/2 pound bowtie or orecchiette pasta
2 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, to taste
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt.

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta.

2. Toss eggplant with 4 tablespoons oil and a large pinch of salt. Spread on a baking sheet, making sure there is room between pieces, and roast until crisp and brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and the shallot and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lamb, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Sauté until lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in mint or dill and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir eggplant into lamb. Taste and adjust seasonings.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter: the amount is to your taste. Let cook until it turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, remaining garlic and a pinch of salt.

5. Drain pasta and spread on a serving platter. Top with lamb-eggplant mixture, then with yogurt sauce. Pour melted butter over top. Sprinkle on additional red pepper and more mint or dill. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

Note: Turkish or Aleppo (Syrian) red pepper flakes are sold at specialty markets and at kalustyans.com. You may also substitute ground chili powder. Do not use crushed red pepper flakes; they will be too hot for this dish.

UPDATE: Mighty tasty and not so much work as it seemed. I just stirred the pasta and eggplant into the lamb in the sauté pan, and then put the yogurt sauce and butter on top of that, saving one serving dish.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2008 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Best site for good deals?

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Lifehacker.com asked their readers for the best deal sites and came up with a list of five. The best of the five seems to be Slickdeals.net:

Slickdeals.net is a comprehensive deal-finding web site with an active user community dedicated to scouring the web for great deals. Slickdeals posts deals in a blog-like format, providing a uncategorized and steady stream of deals on their home page covering the gamut from tech to toys and clothing to appliances. Avid users emphasize that while you should certainly come to Slickdeals for the front page deals, you should stick around for the thriving and thrift-conscious forums.

An example from the Slickdeals site:

Office Depot has 20 500-sheet reams of 92 brightness HP office paper for $37 with free shipping. Thanks xlnc

  1. Click here
  2. Add 2 cases to cart
  3. Apply coupon 43443877 for $21.90 off in cart
  4. Apply coupon 67427790 for 20% off
  5. Checkout, your total will be $37 with free shipping

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2008 at 10:20 am

Posted in Daily life

New US incarceration record

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Jacob Sullum:

According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report (PDF) released yesterday, 2.3 million Americans were behind bars in 2007, 1.5 percent more than in 2006 and a new record. The number includes about 780,000 people in local jails, 1.4 million in state prisons, and 200,000 in federal prison. Roughly one in five state prisoners and more than half of federal prisoners were serving time for drug offenses. Assuming the percentage of drug offenders in jails is similar to the percentage in state prisons, the total is more than half a million. “That is ten times the total in 1980,” notes the Drug Policy Alliance, “and more than all of western Europe (with a much larger population) incarcerates for all offenses.”

showed how the U.S. incarceration rate compares to those of other countries in the June issue of reason.

This graph is from the link in the article:

data608

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2008 at 10:05 am

Most-viewed National Geographic photo galleries

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Some very nice photos among the 10 galleries..

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2008 at 10:03 am

Posted in Daily life

A tool to reduce fuel use

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Interesting:

A business owner with a fleet of 10 heavy-duty diesel trucks wants to cut diesel use by 10 percent. Would using a biodiesel blend or investing in onboard power sources that reduce engine idling achieve the biggest drop in petroleum use?

An average driver, using 600 gallons of gas a year in a typical sedan, wants to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent. Would using fuel economy techniques such as buying new low rolling-resistance tires reduce gas use the most or would taking the bus to work once a week produce better results?

Fleet operators, business owners, and every-day drivers wanting to reduce their petroleum consumption can pinpoint such calculations with the newest tool at the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center.

The Petroleum Reduction Planning (PREP) tool computes the drop in petroleum consumption by employing eight different methods – or a combination of those methods. For every-day drivers, they can calculate their reductions by using fuel economy techniques, hybrid electric vehicles, biodiesel blends and other alternative fuels, or by reducing the number of miles driven through such measures as using mass transit or telecommuting. For fleet operators and business owners, additional methods of truck stop electrification, idling time reduction and onboard idle reduction technologies are provided for calculating reductions. PREP can help every kind of driver create a strategy for cutting conventional fuel use.

“The PREP tool benefits fleets of all sizes – from large private industrial or government fleets to single family fleets – by providing a path to improve their abilities to make fuel-efficient and cost effective decisions,” said Linda Bluestein, Co-Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities initiative.  “This tool builds on earlier work to help regulated fleets by providing a method that allows all vehicle owners – not just regulated fleets – to maximize their reduction in conventional fuel use.”  …

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2008 at 10:01 am

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