Thursday, March 29, 2007

NASA Telescope Finds Planets Thrive Around Stellar Twins

March 29, 2007

The double sunset that Luke Skywalker gazed upon in the film "Star Wars" might not be a fantasy. Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have observed that planetary systems – dusty disks of asteroids, comets and possibly planets – are at least as abundant in twin-star systems as they are in those, like our own, with only one star. Since more than half of all stars are twins, or binaries, the finding suggests the universe is packed with planets that have two suns. Sunsets on some of those worlds would resemble the ones on Luke Skywalker's planet, Tatooine, where two fiery balls dip below the horizon one by one.

"There appears to be no bias against having planetary system formation in binary systems," said David Trilling of the University of Arizona, Tucson, lead author of a new paper about the research appearing in the April 1 issue of the Astrophysical Journal. "There could be countless planets out there with two or more suns." Previously, astronomers knew that planets could form in exceptionally wide binary systems, in which stars are 1,000 times farther apart than the distance between Earth and the sun, or 1,000 astronomical units. Of the approximately 200 planets discovered so far outside our solar system, about 50 orbit one member of a wide stellar duo. The new Spitzer study focuses on binary stars that are a bit more snug, with separation distances between zero and 500 astronomical units. Until now, not much was known about whether the close proximity of stars like these might affect the growth of planets. Standard planet-hunting techniques generally don't work well with these stars, but, in 2005, a NASA-funded astronomer found evidence for a planet candidate in one such multiple-star system (

This modified photo shows what a sunset might look like on a planet circling two snug suns. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech+ Full image and caption

Trilling and his colleagues used Spitzer's infrared, heat-seeking eyes to look not for planets, but for dusty disks in double-star systems. These so-called debris disks are made up of asteroid-like bits of leftover rock that never made it into rocky planets. Their presence indicates that the process of building planets has occurred around a star, or stars, possibly resulting in intact, mature planets. In the most comprehensive survey of its kind, the team looked for disks in 69 binary systems between about 50 and 200 light-years away from Earth. All of the stars are somewhat younger and more massive than our middle-aged sun. The data show that about 40 percent of the systems had disks, which is a bit higher than the frequency for a comparable sample of single stars. This means that planetary systems are at least as common around binary stars as they are around single stars.

In addition, the astronomers were shocked to find that disks were even more frequent (about 60 percent) around the tightest binaries in the study. These coziest of stellar companions are between zero and three astronomical units apart. Spitzer detected disks orbiting both members of the star pairs, rather than just one. Extra-tight star systems like these are where planets, if they are present, would experience Tatooine-like sunsets. "We were very surprised to find that the tight group had more disks," said Trilling. "This could mean that planet formation favors tight binaries over single stars, but it could also mean tight binaries are just dustier. Future observations should provide a better answer."

The Spitzer data also reveal that not all binary systems are friendly places for planets to form. The telescope detected far fewer disks altogether in intermediately spaced binary systems, between three to 50 astronomical units apart. This implies that stars may have to be either very close to each other, or fairly far apart, for planets to arise. "For a planet in a binary system, location is everything," said co-author Karl Stapelfeldt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Binary systems were largely ignored before," added Trilling. "They are more difficult to study, but they might be the most common sites for planet formation in our galaxy." Other authors on the paper include: John Stansberry, George Rieke and Kate Su of the University of Arizona; Richard Gray of the Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.; Chris Corbally of the Vatican Observatory, Tucson; Geoff Bryden, Andy Boden and Charles Beichman of JPL; and Christine Chen of the National Optical Astronomical Observatory, Tucson. JPL manages Spitzer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, also in Pasadena. The multiband imaging photometer for Spitzer was built by Ball Aerospace Corporation, Boulder, Colo.; the University of Arizona; and Boeing North American, Canoga Park, Calif. Co-author Rieke is the principal investigator.

For more information and graphics, visit and More information about extrasolar planets and NASA's planet-finding program is at

Whitney Clavin (818) 354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Opera Previews New Web, Mobile Browsers

Opera says its beta browser gives users a more convenient way to access their most visited sites.
Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:00 PM GMT-08:00

Opera Software ASA released two technologies to beta testing Wednesday, one that the company said gives Web browser users a more convenient way to access their most visited sites, and another that shows off the next version of the Opera Mobile browser for Windows Mobile devices.

The Oslo company introduced Speed Dial, a new feature that lets people create nine visual bookmarks to their top Web sites that are immediately available in any new tab. The feature will be available in Opera 9.2 and is now available in beta from Opera's Web site.
Opera also unveiled a technology preview of the next release of the Opera browser for Windows Mobile. With Opera Mobile 8.65 users across all the PocketPC and smartphone versions of Windows Mobile will received new features such as searching directly in the address bar, copy text, save function for images and the ability to import Internet Explorer bookmarks. The Opera Mobile 8.65 beta is also available on Opera's Web site.

Opera has had more widespread success with its mobile browser than it has with its desktop version since it decided in August 2004 to ship browsers for devices running Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS. While the Opera Web browser trails Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox in market share reports, Opera has been successful in teaming with handset providers to offer its mobile browser on numerous devices. Just last month Microsoft said it plans to offer Opera Mobile in addition to its own mobile browser on some of the first devices that will run the new Windows Mobile 6 OS. The company came up with the idea of Speed Dial for its Web browser because people generally visit about five to 10 sites every day, said Johan Borg, team manager for Opera's desktop browser, in a press release. The new feature is aimed at giving them instant access to those sites, he said.

With each blank tab, Speed Dial presents a thumbnail preview of the top nine sites as selected by the user. Users also can enter the number corresponding with each bookmarked Speed Dial page in Opera's address field to access the page.

In addition to releasing the Opera Mobile 8.65 beta, Opera also announced some new Windows Mobile handsets on which users can now find Opera Mobile. Over the last few months, the browser became available on the following Windows Mobile devices: Motorola MOTO Q q9; the ASUS V1210 for Vodafone International and the VDA IV for Vodafone Germany; T-Mobile Ameo; Dopod U1000 in Asia; and the Toshiba G500.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Google Apps' Gmail Faces Downtime Problems

Google is grappling with performance and availability problems in its free Gmail service for at least the third time this month,
Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 04:00 PM GMT-08:00

For at least the third time this month, Google is grappling with performance and availability problems in the Gmail service of Google Apps, the suite of hosted services that many consider a potential threat to Microsoft's Office suite of desktop software.

The latest problem began affecting users on Tuesday morning (EDT). It remained unresolved Tuesday evening, affecting also regular Gmail users who aren't on Google Apps, according to a company spokesman.

"A number of Gmail users are having some difficulty accessing and sending mail, and we are working as quickly as we can to resolve the problem. Some Google Apps accounts are also affected," he wrote via e-mail. "We know how important e-mail is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously."


The software-as-a-service model, in which applications are hosted centrally by their provider, has generated enthusiasm as an alternative to the traditional approach of having users load and maintain software on their own servers and PCs. Championed by Google and seen as a threat to Microsoft's core business, this software-as-a-service model, however, has an Achilles heel: availability problems.

Several threads on the Google Apps discussion forum show that users started reporting problems accessing the Gmail component of the suite at around 10 a.m. EDT. A Google official who posts messages on behalf of the company in Google Apps discussion boards under the Google Guide name acknowledged passing on the complaints to the appropriate Google staffers in a thread at around 1:10 p.m. EDT.

Some time later, at close to 4 p.m. EDT, Google Guide popped up in another discussion thread, acknowledging the problem existed but saying it hadn't been solved yet.

"A subset of our users are still experiencing 'Server Errors' and 'Oops' messages when trying to access Google Apps email accounts. Since many of you depend on email communications, we want to assure you that we are working diligently to find a resolution. This is currently our top priority and we'll continue to post updates as they become available," this Google official wrote.

A similar Gmail access problem in Google Apps erupted on March 12 and apparently lasted at least two hours, as acknowledged by Google Guide in a thread.

On March 1st, Google Apps' Gmail was hit with an outage that affected some users starting at around 1:30 p.m. EDT, but it wasn't until more than 8 hours later that Google Guide declared the problem solved.

How Many Affected?

All three incidents this month have affected an undetermined "subset" of Google Apps users, including those on the Premier version of the suite, who pay a fee that grants them a service-level commitment from Google of 99.99 percent uptime. In fact, the March 1st incident prompted Google to offer its Premier customers an extension on their contract at no extra charge.

"As a gesture of appreciation, we are offering all of our Premier Edition customers the maximum credit specified in our SLA," Google Guide wrote at the time. "For those receiving a credit, your free trial of the Premier Edition will still expire on April 30th, 2007, but we will extend your contract to May 15, 2008. This translates to an extra 15 days of Google Apps free of charge."

Grant Cummings, an IT professional from Ohio, is a Premier customer affected by the Gmail problems. He pays the $50 per user annual Premier fee for himself and his wife, and hosts two personal sites on Google Apps: Nasal Passages and Ay-Ziggy-Zoomba.

"Today is the second major outage of service for one of us. About 2-3 weeks ago I was unable to log in, send or receive e-mail on my account, and today she's in the same boat," he wrote in an e-mail interview with IDG News Service.

Those having technical difficulties with Google Apps can contact the support team through the Google Apps Help Center.

Google, Yahoo May Not Highlight The Good Stuff

Researchers are trying to figure out how to make more of the good stuff float to the top of Internet search engines and keep more of the bad stuff buried.
Network World staff, Network World
Monday, March 26, 2007 11:00 PM PDT

Researchers are trying to figure out how to make more of the good stuff float to the top of Internet search engines and keep more of the bad stuff buried.
At Queensland University of Technology in Australia, Professor Audun Josang is trying to come up with a system through which search engines would rank Web sites based on their reputation, based in part on input from the broad Internet community of users. Sites that try to hook visitors via phishing scams, for instance, could be outed by users in a "social control" system and search engines could be notified, he said.

"Just because a Web site ranks highly on a search engine doesn't mean it's a good Web site," he said in a statement. "In fact, highly ranked Web sites can be malicious."
The current Web page rankings are too easily manipulated, he said.
"I think in the future reputation systems, integrated into search engines, can be used to weed out such Web sites by giving them a low ranking and thereby making them invisible to unsuspecting users," Josang said in a statement.

Where's the science?

One effect of having so many dangerous and junky Web sites at the top of search engine results is that the good ones are harder to find.

Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute in England say key science sites are failing to show up in the top 30 Google search results, depending on the topic. Their study is looking at sites on topics such as HIV/AIDS (where online resources tend to be more structured), climate change, terrorism (where online resources tend to be more dispersed) and the Internet. They have used 'webmetric analysis" to plot on graphs how resources are linked to one another across the Web.
One of the researchers' basic observations is that Google and other search engines play a key gatekeeper role and that the Internet isn't just a fair-playing field when it comes to information distribution. They are urging policymakers and educators to pay close attention to this situation and work to make the Web a more useful source of information on important topics. Researchers too need to think about more than just tossing their information onto the Web, but make sure that people will be able to find it.

Check out Network World's Alpha Doggs blog for the latest in networking research at universities and other labs.

For more information about enterprise networking, go to NetworkWorld.
Story copyright 2007 Network World Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Windows Home Server Tests Find Nearly 2400 Bugs

Microsoft acknowledges reports may delay consumer server's release.
Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Sunday, March 25, 2007 12:00 PM PDT

Microsoft's Windows Home Server developers have been inundated with bug reports on the under-construction consumer server software, which--when it was announced in January--was expected to ship this summer. There was no word last week from Microsoft whether the necessary fixes would delay that planned release.

Bugs Tallied
In an entry on Microsoft's Home Server blog, program manager Chris Sullivan said that the group has received nearly 2400 bug reports so far from beta testers, and still had 495, or about 21 percent of the total, classified as "active." In Microsoft nomenclature, an active bug is one still under investigation, pending a response or waiting to be investigated. "As you can see, we have our work cut out for us," said Sullivan. Of the bugs that have been addressed, Sullivan said that only 15 percent have actually been fixed. The remainder are issues that are in the server by design (13 percent), not reproducible (21 percent), will be postponed to later versions (11 percent) or likely won't be fixed (7 percent).

Slow Start Draws Rivals
Windows Home Server, which debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), will be Microsoft's first home-specific server software. In January, company executives said the software would ship before the back-to-school selling season starts in July and August, with a release to manufacturing deadline set for late June. The software, based primarily on Windows Server 2003 code, will connect to systems running Windows Vista and Windows XP for file sharing, media playing and backup; and to Mac OS X and Linux machines for file sharing.
Microsoft did not respond to a call asking for a status update on development, and whether the summer release schedule still holds.

Home Server won't be sold separately, as are other server-based operating systems from the company. Instead, computer makers will package the software as part of ready-to-go appliances. Hewlett-Packard, for example, will sell something it calls MediaSmart Server that runs Home Server on an AMD-powered system.

For more enterprise computing news, visit Computerworld.
Story copyright © 2007 Computerworld Inc. All rights reserved

Structure Of The Sun's Magnetic Field

Source: European Space Agency
Date: March 25, 2007
More on:

Science Daily Hinode, the newest solar observatory on the space scene, has obtained never-before-seen images showing that the sun's magnetic field is much more turbulent and dynamic than previously known.

This image of the solar 'chromosphere' was obtained on on 20 November 2006 by the Hinode solar observatory, and reveals the structure of the solar magnetic field rising vertically from a sunspot (an area of strong magnetic field), outward into the solar atmopshere. The chromosphere a thin 'layer' of solar atmosphere 'sandwiched' between the sun's visible surface (or photosphere) and its outer atmosphere (or corona). The chromosphere is the source of ultra violet radiation. (Credit: Hinode JAXA/NASA/PPARC)

Hinode, Japanese for 'sunrise', was launched on 23 September 2006 to study the sun's magnetic field and how its explosive energy propagates through the different layers of the solar atmosphere.

"For the first time, we are now able to make out tiny granules of hot gas that rise and fall in the sun's magnified atmosphere," said Dick Fisher, director of NASA's Heliophysics Division. "These images will open up a new era of study on some of the sun's processes that effect Earth, astronauts, orbiting satellites and the solar system."

Hinode's three primary instruments, the Solar Optical Telescope, the X-ray Telescope and the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer, are observing the different layers of the sun. Studies focus on the solar atmosphere from the photosphere - the visible surface of the sun, to the corona - the outer atmosphere that extends outward into the solar system.

Thanks to coordinated measurements from the three instruments, Hinode is already showing how changes in the structure of the magnetic field and the release of magnetic energy in the low atmosphere spread outward through the corona and into interplanetary space.

"The release of magnetic energy is at the base of space weather," says Bernhard Fleck, ESA's SOHO and Hinode Project Scientist. "Complementing the SOHO data with those of Hinode will allow us to improve our understanding of the violent processes on the Sun that drive space storms. The synergies between the two missions will clearly boost our space weather forecasting capabilities."

Space weather involves the production of energetic particles and the emissions of electromagnetic radiation. These bursts of energy can black out long-distance communications over entire continents and disrupt the global navigational system.

"Hinode images are revealing irrefutable evidence for the presence of turbulence-driven processes that are bringing magnetic fields, on all scales, to the sun's surface, resulting in an extremely dynamic chromosphere or gaseous envelope around the sun," said Alan Title, a corporate senior fellow at Lockheed Martin, Palo Alto, California, and consulting professor of physics at Stanford University, Stanford, California.

By following the evolution of the solar structures that outline the magnetic field before, during and after these explosive events, scientists hope to find clear evidence to establish that magnetic reconnection – a process whereby magnetic field lines from different magnetic domains are spliced to one another and cause a reconfiguration of the magnetic field - is the underlying cause for this explosive activity.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by European Space Agency.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fallacy #4: Atoms are simple substances.

This is the very expression used in this Number. We have here an example of a scientific fact given through revelation before it was established by scientific experimentation, and we can call this an "anachronistic discovery" in science. The Word cautions us here not to think that atoms are simple substances, that is, indivisible. Today we know that atoms are NOT simple substances, meaning, indivisible entities, but are themselves composed of still smaller substances. Recently it was reported on the news that scientists created "anti-matter" sub-atomic particles whose lifespan was around one-billionth of a second. New substances and particles are now being discovered on a regular basis and there is no theoretical end in sight. It is thus a scientific fallacy to believe of any physical substance that it is composed solely of itself. In other words, there is no smallest substance or particle!

Friday, March 23, 2007

News In Brief: Television on cell phones; an online version of Photoshop.

PC World Staff

Friday, March 23, 2007 04:00 PM PDT

Product Pipeline

Samsung's SCH-u620 with Verizon's V Cast Mobile TV.

Cell Phone TV: Verizon Wireless has become the first major carrier to provide true broadcast-style TV on a cell phone. The company's V Cast Mobile TV features CSI: Miami, The Daily Show, The Tonight Show, and other popular programs on eight 24-hour channels including CBS Mobile, ESPN, and Comedy Central. Launching in 19 cities with monthly charges of $15 to $25, the service employs technology from Qualcomm-owned MediaFlo and requires a compatible phone such as Samsung's SCH-u620 (shown above). Cingular has also signed a deal to deliver MediaFlo service to its customers.

Photobucket preview of Web-based Photoshop.

Photoshop Online: Graphics giant Adobe plans to make a basic version of its flagship image editing software, Photoshop, available as a free, Web-based application later this year. (It was previewed in a public beta at the photo-sharing site Photobucket.) Photoshop's Web version won't be as full-featured as the desktop application, but it won't require a software installation, either.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NBC, News Corp. Team Up for YouTube Rival

News Corp. and NBC Universal will launch a video-streaming Web site this year to challenge Google's YouTube.
Ben Ames, IDG News Service

Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:00 AM PDT

News Corp। and NBC Universal will challenge Google Inc।'s YouTube for online eyeballs and advertising dollars by launching a video-streaming Web site by the third quarter, News Corp. announced Thursday.Through a promotion deal with AOL LLC, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, MySpace and Yahoo Inc., the new site will reach 65 million viewers, accounting for 96 percent of U.S. unique online users on a monthly basis, the company said.

To keep those viewers, NBC and News Corp। will offer free viewing of TV episodes by supporting the business with advertising by Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Cisco Systems Inc., Esurance Inc., Intel Corp. and General Motors Corp. The partners will also try to create an interactive Web community by inviting users to create personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and a video-search function.

NBC and News Corp। could also use the site as a virtual channel some day, licensing and producing original programming in addition to the standard network fare including programs like "Heroes," "24," "My Name is Earl," "Saturday Night Live," "The Simpsons" and "Prison Break."

In contrast to the amateur clips available on YouTube, the new site will give consumers professionally produced video, said News Corp। President Peter Chernin in a statement. The site will offer a library of premium content from a dozen networks and two film studios. The partners have not announced the site's name or management, but said that its transitional leader will be George Kliavkoff, who is currently NBC Universal's chief digital officer.

Rather than pull viewers away from its partner portals like AOL, the site will feed its video to them। That design will allow viewers to play videos without leaving AOL's site or even opening additional Web browser windows, according to a statement by AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley.

AOL also played down the brewing rivalry with YouTube, saying that YouTube owner Google also holds a five percent stake in AOL। So both companies will benefit as AOL draws a portion of the advertising revenue generated by the new site, Bentley said.

Likewise, MSN parent Microsoft said the new site could create a major new revenue stream through advertising dollars।

"Our investments in MSN Video and SoapBox over the past couple of years have shown us that video is an amazing driver of user engagement and excitement, both for consumers and for advertisers," said Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's platform and services division, in a release.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Firefox Hit by Fewer Flaws Than IE in 2006

According to Symantec, Mozilla's Firefox suffered from 26 percent fewer vulnerabilities in the second half of 2006.
Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 01:00 AM PDT

Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox suffered from 26 percent fewer vulnerabilities in the second half of 2006 than Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, a security company's research said Monday.
According to Symantec's tally, 40 Firefox vulnerabilities were disclosed between August and December 2006; Internet Explorer (IE), meanwhile, was hit with 54 bugs. Opera and Safari -- the browser Apple Inc. bundles with Mac OS X -- had four flaws each.

For all of 2006, however, the numbers were nearly neck and neck: Firefox was nailed by 87 flaws during the 12 months, IE by 92. The trend line also put Firefox in the better light. The open-source browser had 15 percent fewer vulnerabilities in the second half of the year compared to the first, while IE's total increased 42 percent during the period.

"Internet Explorer was particularly affected by concerted efforts to 'fuzz' the browser for new vulnerabilities," said the Symantec report, which cited July's 'Month of Browser Bugs' project as a big contributor. "The majority reported affected Internet Explorer or Windows components accessible through the browser," Symantec said.

To add insult to injury to IE, Mozilla developers patched Firefox five times faster than did Microsoft's. On average, Firefox had an attack exposure window -- the amount of time between the disclosure of a bug and when it was patched -- of just two days based on a sample set of 26 flaws. By comparison, Microsoft took an average of 10 days to patch the sample 15 vulnerabilities. Both vendors' attack windows were a day longer in the second half of the year than in the first six months.

"Web browsers continue to be the big exploit area," said Vincent Weafer, senior director of Symantec's security response team "And they will increasingly be more important as more data reside on the back end, as Web applications become more popular."

The most recent data pegged IE's market share at 79.1 percent and Firefox's at 14.2 percent. Safari and Opera came in third and fourth, respectively, with 4.9 percent and 0.79 percent.
Symantec's twice-annual Internet security threat report can be found on the Cupertino, Calif., company's Web site.

For more enterprise computing news, visit Computerworld.
Story copyright © 2007 Computerworld Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Computer #2: Google Expands Pay-Per-Action Ads Test

In the new model advertisers would pay only when the ad-click yeilds a specific result.
Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service
Tuesday, March 20, 2007 04:00 PM PDT

Google Inc. is expanding a test it began last year of pay-per-action ads, an ad format that is similar to pay-per-click ads but that experts say is much less prone to click fraud.
In the pay-per-action (PPA) model, advertisers pay whenever the click on the ad yields a specific result, such as when users purchase something or complete an online form.
On Tuesday, Google opened up its PPA test to more advertisers and publishers and gave them more automated tools for things like designing campaigns and creating ads, said Rob Kniaz, product manager for Google's advertising products.

The PPA ads run only on the AdSense for Content network of partner sites for now, and are only available to U.S. advertisers and publishers. Site publishers can select individual ads, a set of ads or opt to have ads run that are contextually related to their site's content.
Participation in the PPA test is by invitation only. Publishers and advertisers can request to be included by going to the program's Web page.

Unlike PPA ads, the pay-per-click (PPC) model calls for advertisers to pay whenever a user clicks on their ads. PPC ads are vulnerable to click fraud, which occurs when someone clicks on a PPC ad without any intent to do business with the advertiser. Reasons for engaging in click fraud include the desire of a site publisher to increase commission revenue or the attempt by an advertiser's competitor to drive up its ad spending.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Computer #1: Hackers Sell IDs for $14, Symantec Says

Malicious documents help crack servers and steal data, according to security report.
Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service
Monday, March 19, 2007 08:00 AM PDT

Identity thieves are offering a person's credit-card number, date of birth and other sensitive information for as little as US$14 over the Internet, said a new report on online threats released Monday.

The data is sold on so-called "underground economy servers," used by criminal organizations to hawk information they've captured through hacking, Symantec Corp. said in its Internet Security Threat Report, which tracked online trends from June to December 2006. The information can then be used for identity scams such as opening a bank account in a false name.
"U.S.-based credit cards with a card verification number were available for between US$1 to $6, while an identity -- including a U.S. bank account, credit card, date of birth and government-issued identification number -- was available for between $14 to $18," the report said.
Some 51 percent of the servers hosting the information were in the U.S., in part because the growth in broadband Internet access in the U.S. has created new opportunities for criminals, Symantec said. About 86 percent of the credit and debit card numbers available on those servers were issued by U.S. banks, it said.

One way that criminals have gained access to computers is by exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities, or software flaws that are being exploited as soon as they are revealed and before a patch has been released.

Symantec documented 12 zero-day vulnerabilities in the period from June to December 2006. Only one was found in its two prior six-month reporting periods, the company said.
Hackers have exploited some of those vulnerabilities by creating malicious documents in Microsoft Office and other software, said Ollie Whitehouse, a security architect at Symantec.
A malicious Word or Excel document, when attached to a spam e-mail, has a greater chance of being opened by someone since it may appear legitimate and be targeted at an employee of a specific company.

While security software programs will often block executable programs attached to e-mail, common Office documents are allowed to go through, Whitehouse said. "A business isn't going to say 'We will no longer accept Office documents received via email,'" Whitehouse said. "I think productivity would go through the floor at that point. Unfortunately, this is where the security requirement and the business requirement do really clash." A video posted on Symantec's blog, shows a sophisticated attack where a malicious document is opened that puts a harmful executable onto the system and then opens a regular Word document. The attack is almost invisible to the user, apart from a flicker on the screen before the Word document opens.
"Office documents -- PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets -- and graphics like JPEGs aren't necessarily considered malicious file formats, so the user is more inclined to open them," Whitehouse said.

Medicine #1: New Russian drug may help fight bird flu


ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, March 19 (UPI) -- Russian scientists have created a new anti-virus drug that they allege can help neutralize the potentially deadly H5N1 bird flu virus.
The Russian news agency ITAR-Tass reported scientists from the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences developed the new drug that is far superior to current treatments.

Called Triazoverin, the academy's newest creation must wait for official state approval.
Russian Academy of Medical Sciences official Oleg Kiselev said the drug represents "a major achievement of Russian science and a result of fruitful cooperation of the two leading institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences."
He added the new drug is unique in its ability to act at any stage of an infection, no matter how severe.

ITAR-Tass said the development project won funding from the Science of the Russian Federation and the Russian Ministry of Education.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Science #1: NASA Studies How Airborne Particles Affect Climate Change

Source: NASA Ames Research Center
Date: March 18, 2007

Science Daily — A recent NASA study links natural and human-made aerosol particles to how much Earth warms or cools. Earth's atmosphere acts as a protective shield that regulates how much solar energy the planet absorbs or deflects. The Intercontinental Chemical Transport Experiment studied how chemicals and pollution affect that protective shield by measuring air flowing from North America and across the Atlantic Ocean.

Aerosol particles (haze particles suspended in the atmosphere, generally smaller than cloud droplets) affect climate by changing the flow of radiant energy from the sun to the Earth's surfaces and within the atmosphere. They do this both directly, by scattering and absorbing solar radiation, and indirectly, by changing cloud properties, rain, snow, and atmospheric mixing. Aerosol particles are extremely varied, in part because they have very many sources, both manmade and natural (e.g., car exhaust, power plants, forest fires, evaporation from petroleum products, agriculture, natural living plants, dust storms, breaking ocean waves, volcanoes). (Credit: Image courtesy of International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation (ICARTT))

"The majority of aerosols form a layer of haze near the Earth's surface, which can cause either a cooling or warming effect, depending on aerosol type and location," said Jens Redemann, lead author of the science paper at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Different types of aerosol particles can influence visible light and other kinds of radiation, affecting climate and temperatures, the scientists reported. "Changing the flow of radiation – including light – above and within the atmosphere changes the energy available for driving Earth's climate," said Phil Russell, also a NASA Ames scientist.

"Our study measured how aerosols change the flow of solar energy," Russell said. This solar energy includes visible light and also radiation at shorter and longer wavelengths in the ultraviolet and infrared ranges.

To find out the extent to which tiny particles in the air could affect climate, NASA scientists flew in a low-flying aircraft over the dark waters of the Gulf of Maine. Two types of instruments on the aircraft measured radiation from the sun.

Radiometers – devices that measure the intensity of radiant energy – measured total solar energy coming from all directions. At the same time, a sun photometer – an instrument that measures the intensity of the sun’s light – measured sunlight coming directly, straight from the sun through the atmosphere. The quantity of aerosols in the atmosphere between the sun photometer and the sun is proportional to the difference between the light intensity measured by the sun photometer and the amount of light that would pass through an aerosol-free atmosphere.

Combining measurements of total solar light intensity from all directions, solar light intensity directly, straight from the sun, and the amount of aerosols in the atmospheric column, scientists can estimate how much of the sun’s energy is scattered (redirected) and absorbed (causes heating) by atmospheric aerosols. These measurements are useful to climate scientists as a reality check for computer climate models.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by NASA Ames Research Center.

Fallacy #3: Genes have the power to reproduce life or Biological organisms "have life within them"

According to these two fallacies of science "seeds [are] impressed with the property of reproducing themselves" and, "life has been imparted to them." The fallacious idea that seeds or genes reproduce or transmit life has led to all sorts of outlandish ideas in sociobiology. According to one popular theory, genes, in their frantic attempt to survive and perpetuate themselves, create physically attractive women so as to have a better chance to be picked by men for reproducing offspring, and thus perpetuating those genes. In this view, a human being is an egg's way of making another egg. However, the Writings explain that genes (or seeds) do not contain life in themselves but are only receptor organs into which life flows in on a continuous basis. Thus, biology is not the "science of life" but the "science of the receptors of life."
On a recent radio talk show, a woman author speaking about pregnancy, said that "we women have the power to get pregnant and produce life in our womb, therefore we have the ability to..." However, in actuality, pregnancy produces organs of life which can receive life through continuous influx from the Lord. The life in us does not belong to our body, but flows through it. This is a scientific revelation that should not be left out of NC science textbooks. In my view, science textbooks in the future will strive to incorporate the scientific revelations given in the Writings. NC textbooks can do this today.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Health #2: Hospitals Should Allow Cell Phone Use

Posted by Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.
on Thu, Mar 15, 2007, 5:51 pm PDT

Hospitals are probably the last place on Earth where cell phones are still not allowed. But if the conclusions of a recent study from the Mayo Clinic hold any sway, the cell phone armies will soon invade there, too. And I'm going to explain why that's a good thing.

Many hospitals ban the use of cell phones because they fear that the phones' electromagnetic signals might interfere with some medical devices and so endanger patients. The Federal Communications Commission has even warned that electronic medical devices in hospitals may be shut down by electromagnetic waves from cell phones. However, these fears and warnings are not based on any proof that cell phones are dangerous in the hospital environment.

A careful study by investigators at the Mayo Clinic, published in the March issue of Mayo Clinics Proceedings, puts these concerns to rest. They conducted 300 tests over a 5½-month period on the effects of two different cell phones on a total of 192 medical devices.

Tests were carried out in multiple patient-care areas, including intensive care units, to determine the effects of initiating or answering a call, talking on the phone, and the ringing of the telephone. None of these cell phone functions interfered with electronic equipment at any of the hospital sites. The authors conclude that "when cellular telephones are used in a normal way, no noticeable interference or interactions occurred with the medical devices."

So, cell phones don't disturb hospitals, though cell phone users might. I have never understood the love affair being carried out (in public) between Americans (and, increasingly, people around the world) and their cell phones; my wife and I have somehow managed very nicely to survive without one (two, actually). We have all been annoyed by the seemingly endless nattering on cell phones by passengers on trains and by fellow diners in restaurants.

And yet, I believe that hospitals should permit visitors to use cell phones. Visits to patients often occur at times of high stress when visitors want to maintain contacts with family and friends and may need to send or receive urgent messages.

My major concern is that loud, constant, and unnecessary talking by discourteous cell phone users will annoy other patients or visitors. If cell phones should be restricted anywhere, however, I vote to ban their use while driving a car.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Health #1: Can Black Pepper Be Poisonous?

Posted by Andrew Weil, M.D.
on Mon, Mar 12, 2007, 4:05 pm PDT

Black pepper is ubiquitous on the world's dining tables, but recently, I was asked if it can be poisonous। The answer is, maybe, but you would have to use an awful lot of pepper for a long time to run into trouble.

The concern about pepper arises from one of its components, safrole, also found in small amounts in star anise, nutmeg, witch hazel, and basil। In the 1960s, the FDA banned the use of safrole in food in the United States after it was found that injecting large amounts caused liver cancer in lab rats.

Perhaps the biggest effect of this ban has been to eliminate the use of sassafras root in the making of root beer। Volatile oils found in the bark of the root of the sassafras plant are 80 percent safrole. Nowadays, sassafras can be used as an ingredient in root beer only if the safrole is removed through a laboratory extraction process.

Black pepper is the most popular spice in the world, and black, green and white peppercorns all come from the black pepper plant (Piper nigrum), native to Asia। Black is the whole, partially ripened fruit; green is the unripe fruit; and white is the peeled seed.

I'm not that concerned about safrole। Eating moderate amount of it in plant products (such as sassafras tea) is not comparable to injecting large amounts of the pure chemical into the abdomens of rats. But black pepper can be an irritant of the GI tract, urinary tract, and prostate, and I don't think it should be consumed frequently in quantity.

I generally don't let waiters grind their pepper mills over my food at restaurants until I taste it first। For a hot spice, I prefer red pepper, which comes from a different plant (Capsicum spp.), doesn't have any natural carcinogenic activity, has a long history of medicinal use, and provides healthful carotenoids. It can help lower cholesterol and stimulate circulation, and can actually help heal the lining of the stomach.

While we're on the subject of pepper, you should know that pink peppercorns are not true pepper। They're the dried berries of the Brazilian pepper tree (Schinus terebinthfolius) and have become popular despite questions about their safety.

Pink peppercorns can cause symptoms resembling those of poison ivy/oak, as well as headaches, swollen eyelids, shortness of breath, chest pains, sore throat, hoarseness, upset stomach, diarrhea and hemorrhoids। I avoid them.

Finally, Sichuan peppercorns, used in East Asian cuisine, are the dried fruits of the prickly ash tree (Zanthoxylum piperitum). They have an interesting numbing effect on the tongue in addition to a peppery flavor, and their toxicity appears to be minimal.

Article #1: Using Your Time Wisely

The question often asked is do we really use our time to our own best interests? To the best interests of our family, and the best interests of our employer (or employees, if we happen to be the boss)?

A study was done at a typical American plant and it was discovered that the people working on the line and paid an average wage watched an average of 30 hours of television each week. The person in charge of the line watched an average of 25 hours of television a week. The foreman watched an average of 20 hours of television a week; the plant superintendent watched an average of 15 hours of television a week; the vice president of the plant watched an average of 12-15 hours of television each week. The president watched an average of 8-12 hours of television every week. The chairman of the board watched an average of 4-8 hours of television a week, and 50% of that time the chairman was watching training videos.

Apparently this study reveals that those with fewer television hours are those who climb higher, further and faster.

Could this be because much of the time spent watching television is either for entertainment or just to relax? Now all of that's not bad, but I'm wondering if we were to reduce in the average person's life the time spent watching television by only 20%, what would the family and financial, as well as health, benefits be? Chances are good there would be more time for relating with others within the family, more time for exercising, and more time for taking care of other important things that are always there for families to do together.

What about the contributions we could make to society if we reduced our television watching time by only 20%? Research shows that people who get involved in voluntary activities for the betterment of others invariably do better in their own careers and personal lives. There is just something inspiring about doing something for others.

Perhaps you are familiar with this quote, You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. It's certainly something to think about, isn't it? So, think about it – follow through and structure your time in such a way that you are learning and doing instead of just laughing and looking. Don't misunderstand. Some laughing and looking is good. Too much of it will not take you from where you are to where you want to go.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Discovery #3: Mars' South Pole Ice Deep and Wide

March 15, 2007

Pasadena, Calif. -- New measurements of Mars' south polar region indicate extensive frozen water. The polar region contains enough frozen water to cover the whole planet in a liquid layer approximately 11 meters (36 feet) deep. A joint NASA-Italian Space Agency instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft provided these data. This new estimate comes from mapping the thickness of the ice. The Mars Express orbiter's radar instrument has made more than 300 virtual slices through layered deposits covering the pole to map the ice. The radar sees through icy layers to the lower boundary, which is as deep as 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) below the surface. "The south polar layered deposits of Mars cover an area bigger than Texas. The amount of water they contain has been estimated before, but never with the level of confidence this radar makes possible," said Jeffrey Plaut of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena Calif. Plaut is co-principal investigator for the radar and lead author of a new report on these findings published in the March 15 online edition of the journal Science. The instrument, named the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS), also is mapping the thickness of similar layered deposits at the north pole of Mars. "Our radar is doing its job extremely well," said Giovanni Picardi, a professor at the University of Rome "La Sapienza," and principal investigator for the instrument. "MARSIS is showing itself to be a very powerful tool to probe underneath the Martian surface, and it's showing how our team's goals, such as probing the polar layered deposits, are being successfully achieved," Picardi said. "Not only is MARSIS providing us with the first-ever views of Mars subsurface at those depths, but the details we are seeing are truly amazing. We expect even greater results when we have concluded an ongoing, sophisticated fine-tuning of our data processing methods. These should enable us to understand even better the surface and subsurface composition." Polar layered deposits hold most of the known water on modern Mars, though other areas of the planet appear to have been very wet at times in the past. Understanding the history and fate of water on Mars is a key to studying whether Mars has ever supported life, since all known life depends on liquid water. The polar layered deposits extend beyond and beneath a polar cap of bright-white frozen carbon dioxide and water at Mars' south pole. Dust darkens many of the layers. However, the strength of the echo that the radar receives from the rocky surface underneath the layered deposits suggests the composition of the layered deposits is at least 90 percent frozen water. One area with an especially bright reflection from the base of the deposits puzzles researchers. It resembles what a thin layer of liquid water might look like to the radar instrument, but the conditions are so cold that the presence of melted water is deemed highly unlikely. Detecting the shape of the ground surface beneath the ice deposits provides information about even deeper structures of Mars. "We didn't really know where the bottom of the deposit was," Plaut said. "Now we can see that the crust has not been depressed by the weight of the ice as it would be on the Earth. The crust and upper mantle of Mars are stiffer than the Earth's, probably because the interior of Mars is so much colder." The MARSIS instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter was developed jointly by the Italian Space Agency and NASA, under the scientific supervision of the University of Rome "La Sapienza," in partnership with JPL and the University of Iowa, Iowa City. JPL manages NASA's roles in Mars Express for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Discovery #2: NASA Mars Rover Churns Up Questions With Sulfur-Rich Soil

March 14, 2007

Some bright Martian soil containing lots of sulfur and a trace of water intrigues researchers who are studying information provided by NASA's Spirit rover. "This material could have been left behind by water that dissolved these minerals underground, then came to the surface and evaporated, or it could be a volcanic deposit formed around ancient gas vents," said Dr. Ray Arvidson of Washington University, St. Louis. He is the deputy principal investigator for NASA's twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Determining which of those two hypotheses is correct would strengthen understanding of the environmental history of the Columbia Hills region that Spirit has been exploring since a few months after landing on Mars in January 2004. However, investigating the bright soil presents a challenge for the rover team, because the loose material could entrap the rover. The bright white and yellow material was hidden under a layer of normal-looking soil until Spirit's wheels churned it up while the rover was struggling to cross a patch of unexpectedly soft soil nearly a year ago. The right front wheel had stopped working a week earlier. Controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., were trying to maneuver the rover backwards, dragging that wheel, to the north slope of a hill in order to spend the southern-hemisphere winter with solar panels tilted toward the sun. Due to the difficulty crossing that patch, informally named "Tyrone," the team chose to drive Spirit to a smaller but more accessible slope for the winter. Spirit stayed put in its winter haven for nearly seven months. Tyrone was one of several targets Spirit examined from a distance during that period, using an infrared spectrometer to check their composition. The instrument detected small amounts of water bound to minerals in the soil. The rover resumed driving in late 2006 when the Martian season brought sufficient daily sunshine to the solar panels. Some of the bright soil from Tyrone was dragged to the winter site by the right front wheel, and Spirit spent some time measuring the composition and mineralogy of these materials. The material is sulfur-rich and consists of sulfate salts associated with iron, and likely calcium. "These salts could have been concentrated by hydrothermal liquid or vapor moving through the local rocks," said rover science team member Dr. Albert Yen, a geochemist at JPL. Two other patches of bright soil uncovered by Spirit before Tyrone were also sulfur-rich, but each had similarities to local rock compositions that were different at the three sites, suggesting localized origins. Researchers will watch for more patches of bright soil. "If we find them along fractures, that would suggest they were deposited at ancient gas vents," Arvidson said. "If they are at the saddles between hills, that would suggest the deposits formed where groundwater came to the surface." Scientists are describing recent findings by Spirit and Opportunity at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference this week in League City, Texas. Spirit has driven away from the Tyrone area for a clockwise circuit around a plateau called "Home Plate." Researchers want to learn more about Home Plate, which Spirit visited briefly in early 2006. They are checking a hypothesis that explosive volcanism, driven by the interaction of magma with water, formed Home Plate and similar features. Halfway around Mars, Opportunity is exploring clockwise around "Victoria Crater," a bowl about 800 meters (half a mile) across. Cliff-like promontories alternate with more gradually sloped alcoves around the scalloped rim. The impact that dug the crater exposed layers that had been buried. "The images are breathtaking," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for the rovers. "Every promontory we've seen has the kinds of layering expected for ancient wind-blown sand deposits." The layers consist of sulfate-rich sandstone similar to other bedrock Opportunity has been finding in Mars' Meridiani region for more than three years. The minerals come from a wet period in the region's ancient past. While exploring Victoria's rim with Opportunity, researchers have been on the lookout for rocks that might have been tossed out from layers deeper and older than the sulfates. "We found one group of cobbles that were clearly more resistant to erosion than the sulfate blocks thrown out onto the rim," Squyres said. "We checked the composition of one that we called Santa Catarina. Our suspicion now is that Santa Catarina is a piece of a meteorite." That would be the fifth meteorite found by the rovers. More than three years into what was planned as a three-month mission on Mars, both Spirit and Opportunity remain in good health, though with signs of aging. "The team has learned how to drive Spirit very well with just five wheels," said JPL's Dr. John Callas, rover project manager. "We could accomplish longer drives if there were more energy, but Spirit's solar panels have gotten really dusty. We would welcome another wind-related cleaning event." It's about the same time of year on Mars now as it was when winds blew dust off Spirit and its solar panels in 2005, increasing energy output. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. For images and information about the rovers, visit

Discovery #1: Cassini Spacecraft Images Seas on Saturn's Moon Titan

March 13, 2007
(Source: NASA/JPL)

Instruments on NASA's Cassini spacecraft have found evidence for seas, likely filled with liquid methane or ethane, in the high northern latitudes of Saturn's moon Titan. One such feature is larger than any of the Great Lakes of North America and is about the same size as several seas on Earth. Cassini's radar instrument imaged several very dark features near Titan's north pole. Much larger than similar features seen before on Titan, the largest dark feature measures at least 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 square miles). Since the radar has caught only a portion of each of these features, only their minimum size is known. Titan is the second largest moon in the solar system and is about 50 percent larger than Earth's moon."We've long hypothesized about oceans on Titan and now with multiple instruments we have a first indication of seas that dwarf the lakes seen previously," said Dr. Jonathan Lunine, Cassini interdisciplinary scientist at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

This radar image shows a lake that is larger than any lake on Earth and could be legitimately called a sea.

While there is no definitive proof yet that these seas contain liquid, their shape, their dark appearance in radar that indicates smoothness, and their other properties point to the presence of liquids. The liquids are probably a combination of methane and ethane, given the conditions on Titan and the abundance of methane and ethane gases and clouds in Titan's atmosphere.Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer also captured a view of the region, and the team is working to determine the composition of the material contained within these features to test the hypothesis that they are liquid-filled.The imaging cameras, which provide a global view of Titan, have imaged a much larger, irregular dark feature. The northern end of their image corresponds to one of the radar-imaged seas. The dark area stretches for more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) in the image, down to 55 degrees north latitude. If the entire dark area is liquid-filled, it would be only slightly smaller than Earth's Caspian Sea. The radar data show details at the northern end of the dark feature similar to those seen in earlier radar observations of much smaller, liquid-filled lakes. However, to determine if the entire dark feature is a liquid-filled basin will require investigation through additional radar flyovers later in the mission.The presence of these seas reinforces current thinking that Titan's surface must be re-supplying methane to its atmosphere, the original motivation almost a quarter century ago for the theoretical speculation of a global ocean on Titan.Cassini's instruments are peeling back the haze that shrouds Titan, showing high northern latitudes dotted with seas hundreds of miles across, and hundreds of smaller lakes that vary from several to tens of miles.Due to the new discoveries, team members are re-pointing Cassini's radar instrument during a May flyby so it can pass directly over the dark areas imaged by the cameras.For images and more information visit: and .The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fallacy #2: The space between the stars and planets is a vacuum.

This scientific fallacy is upheld in Newton's work and throughout Newtonian physics। Newton, in the spiritual world, rejected his own theory of vacuum: I spoke with Newton concerning a vacuum, and concerning colors...Concerning a vacuum he said, that in the world he had believed in the existence of a vacuum; but when the angels perceived that he had an idea of a vacuum, as an idea of nothing, they turned themselves away, saying that they cannot bear the idea of nothing...Therefore the angels entreated that he and all those who cherished the idea of a vacuum as of nothing would desist from it...When he had heard these things, Newton said that...he would desist from it hereafter LJP 265/6.
Today more and more scientists reject the idea of a vacuum. Outer space is defined as a gravitational field that is never empty and cannot be composed of nothing. The idea that space is a vacuum is an irrational idea because the existence of a vacuum would violate the rational principle that all things in the universe are interconnected through an uninterrupted series of substances and functions, as revealed in DLW. A related fallacy is the idea that God created the physical universe out of nothing. The Word reveals that the Lord creates the universe out of substances and atmospheres that issue from the Divine sphere. I think that the idea of inter-galactic and sub-atomic space being a vacuum or nothing may injure one's idea of Divine Providence and its absolute omnipotence.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fallacy #1: The sun revolves around the earth.

Scientists used to believe this, but after Copernicus and Galileo, the fallacy largely died out. Nevertheless, it needs to be taught to each new generation since the uneducated person falls prey to this appearance.

This Day in History 1923 : First movie with sound recorded on film

On this day in 1923, inventor Lee de Forest demonstrates Phonofilm, the first film capable of taping sound. Music was recorded on a narrow strip at the edge of the film. The demonstration showed a man and woman dancing, four musicians playing instruments, and an Egyptian dancer, all accompanied by music but no dialogue.
Feature films with sound would not debut for several years, as movie studios sought to avoid a standards war.
Until the 1920s, any sound associated with motion pictures either came from live actors and musicians or from phonographs synchronized to the action onscreen. In 1889, an assistant of Thomas Edison demonstrated the Kinetophonograph, a phonograph synched to Edison's early movie projector, the Kinetoscope. De Forest's development of film that could carry sound was acquired by Fox and evolved into the Movietone sound process, introduced in 1927.
By 1927, several different types of movie sound systems had been developed, which proved a problem for silent movie theaters. Fitting a movie theater for a sound system was extremely costly-to wire a movie house for Warner Bros.' Vitaphone sound system, for example, cost about $20,000.
Several studios, including MGM, Paramount, and Universal, agreed to wait to make talkies until they agreed on a single audio standard, but Warner Bros., not part of the agreement, released the earliest sound films. For Warner Bros., then in difficult financial straights, sound was a matter of survival: The struggling company had staked everything on acquiring the Vitaphone system and publicizing its early sound movies. The first, Don Juan (1926), starring John Barrymore, featured sound but no dialogue. The following year, the studio released The Jazz Singer, which included music as well as about 350 words of dialogue. Only about 200 theaters nationwide were equipped for Warner Bros.' Vitaphone, so a silent version of the movie was also distributed. The company was lucky to have made the gamble--sound caught on and revived Warner Bros.' fortunes.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

This Day In History 1942: MacArthur leaves Corregidor

After struggling against great odds to save the Philippines from Japanese conquest, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur abandons the island fortress of Corregidor under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt. Left behind at Corregidor and on the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino troops, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive.
After leaving Corregidor, MacArthur and his family traveled by boat 560 miles to the Philippine island of Mindanao, braving mines, rough seas, and the Japanese Navy. At the end of the hair-raising 35-hour journey, MacArthur told the boat commander, John D. Bulkeley, "You've taken me out of the jaws of death, and I won't forget it." On March 17, the general and his family boarded a B-17 Flying Fortress for Northern Australia. He then took another aircraft and a long train ride down to Melbourne. During this journey, he was informed that there were far fewer Allied troops in Australia than he had hoped. Relief of his forces trapped in the Philippines would not be forthcoming. Deeply disappointed, he issued a statement to the press in which he promised his men and the people of the Philippines, "I shall return." The promise would become his mantra during the next two and a half years, and he would repeat it often in public appearances.
For his valiant defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and celebrated as "America's First Soldier." Put in command of Allied forces in the Southwestern Pacific, his first duty was conducting the defense of Australia. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Bataan fell in April, and the 70,000 American and Filipino soldiers captured there were forced to undertake a death march in which at least 7,000 perished. Then, in May, Corregidor surrendered, and 15,000 more Americans and Filipinos were captured. The Philippines--MacArthur's adopted home--were lost, and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had no immediate plans for their liberation.
After the U.S. victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942, most Allied resources in the Pacific went to U.S. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who as commander of the Pacific Fleet planned a more direct route to Japan than via the Philippines. Unperturbed, MacArthur launched a major offensive in New Guinea, winning a string of victories with his limited forces. By September 1944, he was poised to launch an invasion of the Philippines, but he needed the support of Nimitz's Pacific Fleet. After a period of indecision about whether to invade the Philippines or Formosa, the Joint Chiefs put their support behind MacArthur's plan, which logistically could be carried out sooner than a Formosa invasion.
On October 20, 1944, a few hours after his troops landed, MacArthur waded ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte. That day, he made a radio broadcast in which he declared, "People of the Philippines, I have returned!" In January 1945, his forces invaded the main Philippine island of Luzon. In February, Japanese forces at Bataan were cut off, and Corregidor was captured. Manila, the Philippine capital, fell in March, and in June MacArthur announced his offensive operations on Luzon to be at an end; although scattered Japanese resistance continued until the end of the war in August. Only one-third of the men MacArthur left behind on March 11, 1942, survived to see his return. "I'm a little late," he told them, "but we finally came."