Speculation was mounting last night over the health of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. He has not been seen in public for more than three weeks, and, according to a source who has seen intelligence reports, five Chinese physicians entered North Korea about a week ago and are still there.
The 66-year-old leader was last seen on 14 August, when he inspected a military unit. State media carry reports every time Mr Kim attends a public event, but never comment on his health. An official with South Korea’s main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, has said Mr Kim has chronic heart disease and diabetes but that his illnesses have not affected his public duties.
North Korea next week marks 60 years since its foundation. An annual military parade is usually staged on the anniversary. If Mr Kim doesn’t attend, this may indicate his health has worsened, South Korean officials believe.
And have you ever wondered what would happen if Florida gets slammed by more hurricanes?
a series of studies have made it clear that if the Big One or even a Pretty Big One strikes, Florida is going to have very serious problems. The state-run insurance firm and the Catastrophe Fund have just a few billion dollars on hand, so a major storm would force both entities to float massive bond issues in an unfavorable market, and to make up their shortfalls through gigantic assessments on policyholders. A House committee recently warned that the state would have “extreme difficulty paying its obligations” after a 100-year storm, and that premiums on nearly every property, car and business could skyrocket. A report for the state Office of Insurance Regulation found that even a 50-year storm would cause extreme financial stress, especially given the current credit crunch.
It could happen this week…we will see. Speaking of the credit crunch. The U.S. has taken over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Desperate measures for desperate times.
Officials announced that both giant institutions were being placed in a government conservatorship, a move that could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said allowing the companies to fail would have extracted a far higher price on consumers by driving up the cost of home loans and all other types of borrowing because the failures would “create great turmoil in our financial markets here at home and around the globe.”
Hang on to that gold! The federal takeover is one of the largest bail-outs in US history. ACtually don’t worry, The CERN goes on Wednesday ending all existance as we know it.
GENEVA – It has been called an Alice in Wonderland investigation into the makeup of the universe — or dangerous tampering with nature that could spell doomsday.
Whatever the case, the most powerful atom-smasher ever built comes online Wednesday, eagerly anticipated by scientists worldwide who have awaited this moment for two decades.
The multibillion-dollar Large Hadron Collider will explore the tiniest particles and come ever closer to re-enacting the big bang, the theory that a colossal explosion created the universe.
The machine at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, promises scientists a closer look at the makeup of matter, filling in gaps in knowledge or possibly reshaping theories.
The first beams of protons will be fired around the 17-mile tunnel to test the controlling strength of the world’s largest superconducting magnets. It will still be about a month before beams traveling in opposite directions are brought together in collisions that some skeptics fear could create micro “black holes” and endanger the planet.
The project has attracted researchers of 80 nationalities, some 1,200 of them from the United States, which contributed $531 million of the project’s price tag of nearly $4 billion.
“This only happens once a generation,” said Katie Yurkewicz, spokeswoman for the U.S. contingent at the CERN project. “People are certainly very excited.”
The collider at Fermilab outside Chicago could beat CERN to some discoveries, but the Geneva equipment, generating seven times more energy than Fermilab, will give it big advantages.
The CERN collider is designed to push the proton beam close to the speed of light, whizzing 11,000 times a second around the tunnel 150 to 500 feet under the bucolic countryside on the French-Swiss border.
Once the beam is successfully fired counterclockwise, a clockwise test will follow. Then the scientists will aim the beams at each other so that protons collide, shattering into fragments and releasing energy under the gaze of detectors filling cathedral-sized caverns at points along the tunnel.
CERN dismisses the risk of micro black holes, subatomic versions of collapsed stars whose gravity is so strong they can suck in planets and other stars.
But the skeptics have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Hawaii and in the European Court of Human Rights to stop the project. They unsuccessfully mounted a similar action in 1999 to block the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York state.
CERN’s collider has been under construction since 2003, financed mostly by its 20 European member states. The United States and Japan are major contributors with observer status in CERN.
Scientists started colliding subatomic particles decades ago. As the machines grew more powerful, the experiments revealed that protons and neutrons — previously thought to be the smallest components of an atom — were made of still smaller quarks and gluons.
CERN hopes to recreate conditions in the laboratory a split-second after the big bang, teaching them more about “dark matter,” antimatter and possibly hidden dimensions of space and time.
Meanwhile, scientists have found innovative ways to explain the concept in layman’s terms.
The team working on one of the four major installations in the tunnel — the ALICE, or “A Large Ion Collider Experiment” — produced a comic book featuring Carlo the physicist and a girl called Alice to explain the machine’s investigation of matter a split second after the Big Bang.
“We create mini Big Bangs by bumping two nuclei into each other,” Carlo explains to Alice, who has just followed a rabbit down one of the hole-like shafts at CERN.
“This releases an enormous amount of energy that liberates thousands of quarks and gluons normally imprisoned inside the nucleus. Quarks and gluons then form a kind of thick soup that we call the quark-gluon plasma.”
The soup cools quickly and the quarks and gluons stick together to form protons and neutrons, the building blocks of matter.
That will enable scientists to look for still missing pieces to the puzzle — or lead to the formulation of a new theory on the makeup of matter.
Kate McAlpine, 23, a Michigan State University graduate at CERN, has produced the Large Hadron Rap, a video clip that has attracted more than a million views on YouTube.
“The things that it discovers will rock you in the head,” McAlpine raps as she dances in the tunnel and caverns.
CERN spokesman James Gillies said the lyrics are “absolutely scientifically spot on.”
“It’s quite brilliant,” Gillies said.
About as brilliant as using poison to make your dinnerware and waterbottles out of.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Scientists reported this week new evidence that low doses of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), widely used to make plastic food and drinking containers, can impair brain function in primates, extending the findings of previous research conducted in rats.
Whether the amount of BPA that leaches out of containers into food and beverages represents an environmental risk is a subject of controversy.
“Our primate model indicates that BPA could negatively affect brain function in humans,” study investigator Tibor Hajszan said in a press release from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.
Hajszan and colleagues examined the influence of continuous exposure to BPA at a daily dose representing the US Environmental Protection Agency’s current reference safe daily limit (50 micrograms per kilogram) in young adult African green monkeys.
According to a report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, BPA completely abolished the formation of some nerve connections in two key regions of the brain – the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
These findings have “profound implications,” the investigators maintain, given the critical role of these nerve connections in cognition and mood.
“Based on these findings, we think the EPA may wish to consider lowering its ‘safe daily limit’ for human BPA consumption,” Hajszan said.