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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NASA approves Hubble revival plan

Circuit switchover could get data flowing again by Friday, managers say

Slide show
The Hubble Story
What’s it like to hang in space and fix the Hubble Space Telescope? Click to see images of Story Musgrave and other astronauts at work, and hear him describe the experience, from scary liftoffs to figuring out which way is up.

By Alan Boyle
Science editor

NASA is going ahead with a plan to restart the flow of science data from the Hubble Space Telescope by routing around circuitry that failed a little more than two weeks ago, officials said Tuesday.

The unprecedented switchover is due to begin early Wednesday, and if all goes well, the telescope should be beaming imagery back down to Earth by Friday, said Art Whipple, manager of the Hubble Space Telescope Systems Management Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Last month's glitch forced the postponement of the shuttle Atlantis' servicing mission to the world's best-known space observatory. That mission had been due for launch on Tuesday, but it's now been put off until next February at the earliest. Whipple said the plan for that orbital service call was "still being hashed out."

The operation planned for this week will be done entirely by remote control, from Hubble's operations center on the Goddard campus in Maryland. Controllers will switch Hubble's command and data handling system from the channel it was using, known as Side A, to a backup channel called Side B.

Whipple said NASA's experts were confident that Side A was the source of the glitch that cut off the flow of science data. "As far as we can tell, nothing else was affected," he told journalists during a teleconference Tuesday.

Over the past couple of weeks, teams at Goddard have been testing a spare data-handling unit and checking diagnostics from the telescope to make sure the plan for the switchover was solid. The electronic components on Side B have never been used before during Hubble's 18 years of operation, and it's not certain that they will work this time.

"It is a complicated procedure, and it's one that we have not done end to end before," Whipple said. But he said experts determined that even under the worst-case scenario — for example, if there were a hidden flaw in the Side B electronics — the telescope would not be left in worse shape than it is now.

In order to do the switchover, controllers at Goddard will have to put the telescope into safe mode, issue commands to reroute circuitry through Side B rather than Side A, then return the telescope to its operating condition.

"This is something that is a little out of the norm of what you would do around the house, but it's probably not unlike what an IT professional might do with an office network," Whipple said.

"The difference is, on the ground, you tend to power things on and off and reconfigure by pushing buttons and swapping cables," he said. "Since we can't do that, of course, with something in space, there are ... switches that do the functional equivalent of swapping cables, and remotely commanded relays that allow us to send a command and power something on or off."

In all, 40 to 50 people will be involved in the operation. "People will be working 24/7 for the total time here," said Jon Morse, director of the Astrophysics Division in NASA Headquarters' Science Mission Directorate.

The most critical time in the switchover will last from about 8:30 to 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, Whipple said. If the recovery is successful, the first data should be received from one science instrument late Thursday, with full operation restored on Friday, he said.

The very first image is due to show an internal lamp that is part of the apparatus for Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, which is currently inoperative due to an earlier glitch.

"Nothing could be aesthetically less pleasing," Whipple said, "but it will be a great relief to everyone when we see that flat field illuminated by that internal lamp."

Hubble's managers expect that the first science instrument to be revived would be the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, which has produced some of the telescope's most famous images in the visible-light spectrum. Another imaging device, the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer, could come back into service later.

The big upgrade for the telescope, involving the installation of two new instruments and the hoped-for repair of two others, will have to wait until Atlantis gets off the ground. NASA would also send up the spare command and data-handling unit for installation as a replacement part, assuming that the unit passes its ground testing. The telescope would continue to use Side B on the replacement unit, Whipple said.

He said experts may not know exactly why Side A on the current unit suddenly went bad until the apparatus is brought back down to Earth for analysis. But he wouldn't rule out a diagnosis that the normal wear and tear experienced during 18 years of use led to the breakdown.

"Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever," he said.


Top 10 Most Brilliant Gadgets of the Year (With Videos)

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Kindle
Livescribe Pulse Smartpen
Livescribe Pulse Smartpen
Craftsman Nextec Multi-Saw
Craftsman Nextec Multi-Saw
Nissan Around View Monitor
Nissan Around View Monitor
M-Spector Digital Inspection Camera
M-Spector Digital Inspection Camera
Intel Atom Processor
Intel Atom Processor
Caroma Profile Smart Dual Flush Toilet
Caroma Profile Smart Dual Flush Toilet

The early 20th century produced a breathtaking succession of innovations—the Wright Flyer, the Model T, the Panama Canal. It was a golden age of engineering. A century hence, observers may well look back at our era in much the same way: Cars reimagined from the wheels up. These pages salute the product designers who have transformed the present.

read more | digg story

SEMA Challenger Concepts

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — If you don't think the production Dodge Challenger looks tough enough, get a load of these two 2008 SEMA Show specials from Mopar: the Dodge Challenger Targa and the Dodge Challenger Blacktop.

The Challenger Targa is strictly a racing car, named for the Targa Newfoundland competition. Dodge started with a Mopar Challenger drag-racing package car, added a deep chin spoiler and hood scoop, and painted everything an eye-catching snakeskin green.

Underneath lurks a KW-prepped racing suspension and Stop-Tech brakes, adapted from the Dodge Viper ACR. Powering the Challenger Targa is a 392 Hemi Mopar crate engine developing 540 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque, driving the rear wheels through a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox.

The Mopar Underground design team created the Challenger Blacktop, starting with a 5.7-liter Hemi-equipped Challenger R/T. Breathing is enhanced with a cold-air intake and a cat-back dual exhaust system. A Mopar coil-over suspension lowers ride height and tightens handling. The car is fitted with 22-inch Viper wheels from Factory Reproductions, shod with Dunlop performance tires (265/35R-22 front, 305/30R-22 rear).

Inside, the Challenger Blacktop gets bright-red Katzkin leather seating and a Mopar Kicker premium audio system. The car adds custom spoilers and is painted black, with black racing stripes.

Inside Line says: We knew the Challenger was ripe for SEMA make-overs.

Radiohead reveal how successful 'In Rainbows' download really was



Facts for pay-what-you-want release finally made public

The statistics behind the pay-what-you-like release of Radiohead's 'In Rainbows' album, released on October 10 last year online, have been revealed today (October 15).

According to reports most fans chose to pay nothing to download the album. However, it still generated more money before it was physically released (on December 31) than the total money generated by sales of the band's previous album, 2003's 'Hail To The Thief'.

According to Music Ally, Jane Dyball, head of business affairs at Warner Chappell (the publishing company that oversaw the release of 'In Rainbows'), refused to reveal the average price people were downloading the album for.

However, Dyball, set to speak about the release at the Iceland Airwaves conference later, explained that Warner Chappell and Radiohead's management were monitoring the average price daily, and was prepared to cancel the download facility if the average price became too low.

The download facility was taken down after three months, and the album went to Number One in the UK and USA after being physically released.

Statistics revealed that most fans downloaded the album through file-sharing service BitTorrent, but that this had been anticipated before the release.

The band sold 100,000 copies of the 'In Rainbows' box set, which contained extra songs not available on the standard download or CD release.

Warner Chappell concluded that the new release style was a financial success, but did not reveal whether Radiohead plan to release an album in a similar way in the future.

Wired's SuperCar Run Down

Chismillionaire votes it a toss up between the Bentley and F430 as well. Shame on Wired for not including the Aston Martin DBS though.

Lambo and Viper make too many compromises. You can't look like a doof getting in and out of the vehicle are key criteria

Wild Horses The definition of supercar varies widely, but three elements remain constant: speed in the neighborhood of 200 mph, cornering like the light cycles in Tron, and the ability to attract a parade of local law enforcement. You should buy a couple.

1 // Ferrari F430
While there really is no such thing as an entry-level car from the famed scuderia, Ferrari's bottom-of-the-line F430 is a great choice for hedge-fund jockeys itching to blow their first bonus. Its remarkable balance makes even nervous novices feel like experienced racers, but if you should accelerate beyond your pay grade and find yourself sideways, the F430 snaps back into line when you blip the throttle.
Wired: One of the best-handling cars ever made. Slick-shifting clutchless automated manual transmission (optional) saves you from stalling out in front of your date. Sweet exhaust note will quickly become your favorite song but isn't loud enough to necessitate cockpit yelling.
Tired: A measly 4 mph shy of joining the 200 club.

Tricked-Out Treats
Time to cut the begging and go 21st century on your confection-acquisition with some performance-enhancing Halloween gear.—Rick Broida

ATN Night Scout Night-vision specs will help you find the Smarties at the bottom of your stash—and complete your Rainbow Six costume.

Skorpion Multi Terrain Skates Strap these on and glide effortlessly over anything from grass to gravel to goblins.

SureFire E2D LED Defender Turn the darkest Halloween night into day with this weaponized flashlight's 120 lumens of blinding fury.

Verizon Chaperone Keep tabs on your ground troops while you guard the base with a handset that tracks their coordinates.
$10 monthly,

2 // Dodge Viper SRT10
The engineering brief for the Viper must have gone something like this: "Affix enormous engine to wheels." The car didn't even have ABS brakes until 2001, and it still lacks traction control. Speaking of which, with 600 horsepower and no electronic nannies, it's not a car for the uninitiated. But at least you'll die smiling.
Wired: If you know how to steer with the throttle, you can accomplish wondrous things, from hairpins to straight-line bursts of speed up to 202 mph. We got 20 mpg hauling ass on the highway—pretty decent for a 10-cylinder, 8.4-liter (!) engine. Supercar bargain of the century.
Tired: More rattles than a maternity ward. Exhaust note is disappointingly meek. Egress requires finesse—and possibly a spotter

3 // Bentley Continental GT Speed
If you delight in comfort as well as velocity, might we suggest the GT Speed? By supercar standards, its looks are modest, but its performance is not: 202 mph in what feels like a rolling day spa. The machine is a civilized dream to drive—until you mash the Mr. Hyde pedal, and the Speed's monstrous W-12 engine terrifies with feats of frightening velocity.
Wired: Britishly composed, even while performing Americanly dumb maneuvers. The deepest, richest, most gorgeous paint job you've ever seen. Enough trunk space to stow all your cricket kit.
Tired: At 6,000 pounds, the car is not exactly nimble. No sunroof available.

4 // Lamborghini Murciélago LP640
The Murciélago was designed to let you go very fast (211 mph) without getting killed, and the intention comes through. Its all-wheel drive and massive ceramic brakes (optional) are as adept at getting you out of trouble as the 640-hp V-12 is at causing it.
Wired: Scissor doors like the Countach poster in your childhood bedroom. Incredible engine roar makes you look forward to overpasses. Attracts exactly the kind of girl (or guy) you'd expect.
Tired: Yes, we are. The ever-present engine howl, granite-like seats, and Jameson-stiff suspension made us feel beat up after a couple of hours. Couldn't even fit a helmet in the front compartment, so we wore it instead. Seemed like a good idea.

NSA Scribe Details Efforts since 9/11

51t3kjuxgl_ss500_ No outsider has spent more time tracking the labyrinthine ways of the National Security Agency than James Bamford. But even he gets lost in the maze. Despite countless articles and three books on the U.S. government's super-secret, signals-intelligence service — the latest of which, The Shadow Factory, is out today — Bamford tells Danger Room that he was caught off guard by revelations that the NSA was eavesdropping on Americans. He remains confused about how the country's telecommunications firms were co-opted into the warrantless spying project. And he's still only guessing, he admits, at the breadth and depth of those domestic surveillance efforts. In this exclusive interview, Bamford talks about how hard it is, after all these years, to fit together the pieces at the NSA's "Puzzle Palace" headquarters.

DANGER ROOM: When did you learn that the NSA was listening in on American citizens?

JAMES BAMFORD: After 2001, when people would ask, I'd say, "I don't think the NSA is breaking the law. As far as I'm concerned, the NSA doesn't do that. They don't eavesdrop illegally on Americans anymore." So on December 16, 2005 [when The New York Times broke the story of the NSA's domestic surveillance], I was … shocked to learn the NSA for years had been doing warrantless eavesdropping — exactly contrary to what I insisted they were doing, what I thought [agency director Lt. Gen. Michael] Hayden wouldn't do.

DR: The new book really centers around Hayden. You two were close, right?

JB: I never had a personal relationship with Hayden — I knew him well enough to interview him numerous times, had dinner at his house, all that kind of stuff. Looking back later on, I was disappointed in his lack of ability to stand up against powerful forces like Cheney and Bush. He should know the law better than anybody and he never said no, to anything.

DR: In 2000, you write, Hayden was so worried about the possibility of spying on Americans that he actually cut off surveillance of the 9/11 hijackers while they were here in the United States. Was the domestic eavesdropping after 9/11 an attempt to compensate?

JB: After looking at how bad a job they did in the lead-up to 9/11, I think Hayden was very chagrined. He knew right away that the guys that they were after — [the 9/11 hijackers Khalid al-] Midhar and [Salem al-] Hamzi, for example — the NSA had been eavesdropping on them for years.... But before 9/11, the NSA [was] so jealous of all its information, it wasn't passing it on. [These] hijackers [were staying] just across the highway, basically [from NSA headquarters]. And the NSA is not going the extra step and telling anybody where they are….

So I think there was a degree of overcompensation, from performing too carefully before 9/11 to trying to make up for it by going to the opposite extreme and eavesdropping without warrants, doing whatever the administration asked.

DR: Was Hayden the only one who changed? Or was there an agency-wide cultural shift?

JB: Well, I tried to focus on Hayden, because he was the person that could either give thumbs up or thumbs down to an operation. Plus, I knew Hayden. I didn't really know anybody else. I mean, there were other people that worked at the agency that also could've said no, but didn't. You have a deputy director under him, you have the head of operations under him. Whether they tried to push back, I don't know. I just know there didn't seem to be a lot of resistance, and that everybody seemed to be going along with the program.

DR: And now, there are all these contractors doing jobs that used to belong to NSA employees. That must make it even harder to figure out what's going on — yet another veil to pierce.

JB: It makes it harder, yeah. Because before, you could talk to somebody sitting at NSA and they'd say, "Oh, talk to the guy sitting next to me, too." But now, things are outsourced to so many different companies, you could never get a real handle on how big it is, and what the problems are.

DR: NSA has long had all these relationships with the telecommunications companies, as well. One thing that confused me: Before 9/11, while Hayden was supposedly fighting against any eavesdropping on Americans, you write, the NSA was trying to convince one telecom, Qwest Communications, to help the agency conduct domestic surveillance. Those two don't fit.

JB: It would've been nice if everything fit into a nice little package, but it didn't. That was one of the outlying issues. The time line seemed to be off. You know, I could see [Hayden] doing that after 9/11, but before 9/11 he was very careful. It's hard to say. Again, I'm just one guy trying to write this book. But that's why there really needs to be a congressional investigation into what went on at NSA.

The only thing I can think of is that [Hayden] may not have been trying to get access to the actual voice conversations. What he may have been trying to get from Qwest was their database of subscribers — subscriber names, subscriber telephone numbers. It's one of the things that NSA has always tried to get. I mean, going back to the early days, they had the world's largest collection of telephone books.

Hayden would've known that was at least questionable, if not illegal, because I think he made a comment about that very kind of access before 9/11.

DR: In the book, you describe Hayden gathering together a small group to do domestic surveillance, and then swearing them to secrecy. Did this remain a small-group effort, or did it become something more widespread?

JB: What I think happened after 9/11, at the time [Hayden] was given the go-ahead, he brought this group in. I think it was like, my impression was it was like about 80 people — 80 to 90, briefed into this codeword system. And I think they were mostly civilians, and they were mostly people who would receive that information. I don't think that included a lot of the [largely-military] intercept operators. I think that was the group that was designated to analyze the information that came up from the intercept operators themselves. So, in other words, if you're listening to an American and you target the people who are calling that person, the tree sort of expands, the branches expand. All those names will be dealt with just by this small group. It's very similar to, during the '60s and '70s when NSA did [domestic surveillance]. It was a small group of people, and each person had to be particularly briefed on it.

DR: So that group remained secret, even within NSA?

JB: Yeah, you had all these compartments in NSA, and this was, I guess, the most tightly controlled compartment of all.

DR: But the collectors were different.

JB: They just pick up everything. That's how I understood the program to work. So you get the intercept operators, like [Adrienne] Kinne and [David] Murfee Faulk [who allegedly monitored the phone calls of countless Americans overseas, from a Georgia listening post]. They're just out there, picking up everything. And then they just transcribe it and send it on to NSA.

The analysts would create these telephone trees — who's calling whom, who's calling that person, who's calling that person. That information began getting put back into the system. Like Kinne was saying, she'd get these numbers [to monitor], and she didn't know where they came from. And they would have to add those numbers to the system. That's my impression of how it worked.

DR: This is the so-called "Operation Highlander," right?

JB: Well, Highlander is just one. Highlander happened to [involve] Adrienne Kinne. Faulk was on a different [one]. Highlander was a program that focused strictly on Inmarsat [a satellite phone company] over the Middle East. Faulk was working on a program that focused on cell phones within Iraq and that area. Each one of these things is a separate little compartment. The warrantless eavesdropping had a code name; I was never able to find out what it was. But all these are individual programs which make up a whole maze of compartmented programs within the NSA. So when you interview these people, they say they know what they did in their office, but they don't know what the people in the next office were doing.

DR: It sounds like there were lots of people in the NSA that were spying on Americans.

JB: Well, I assume that they were. I mean, I don't think I managed to find the only two in the whole U.S. government that were doing it. No, I think I found two that were outraged enough to speak publicly about it. And I did actually interview other people, too — but they wouldn't go on the record or anything.

DR: So what's today known as the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" — that was only one in a broad range of activities, listening in on Americans?

JB: The Terrorist Surveillance Program, from everybody I've talked to, was just this umbrella name for all the bad or potentially illegal programs they were doing. And within that program, there were a large variety of programs that ended up growing over the years. There's a whole variety of means to gather information. So I think they all may have had different code names, but they came under this one umbrella.

JB: You know, I've seen formerly classified NSA cables. At the top of these were words like, "Top Secret, slash Umbra, slash Shamrock, slash Highlander, slash this, slash that." And so the only people that could read [those cables] are people who are [allowed to have access to] all those different programs. You get into this sort of Alice in Woderland of compartmented programs and code names and cover words.

But the bottom line is that they had an expansive program to do eavesdropping that was done totally unilaterally, without any oversight. This is NSA being judge, jury and executioner in terms of who gets eavesdropped on and what happens to that information. And, that's really the problem.

DR: You've got a scene in the book where Kinne's supervisor, John Berry, tries to brief Hayden about this stuff — and Hayden blows him off. What does that tell you, if anything, about how Highlander fit into the larger picture?

JB: Highlander was [just] one system targeting one satellite in one part of the world. And NSA is a lot of people targeting lots of different communications facilities — land lines, fiber optic cables, all kinds of things all over the world. Berry and Highlander weren't the be-all and end-all of the whole warrantless eavesdropping system. They were one little cog in a very big operation. It was one little operation in one part of a base. It wasn't as though Berry was in charge of the warrantless eavesdropping program.

DR: But, before, there was such a strong culture at NSA of respecting Americans' privacy. You had United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18), which strictly prohibits listening in on U.S. persons, without a warrant. What happened?

JB: That's one of the interesting things, one of the things I wanted to get across in the book — this whole before-and-after issue. [Before,] as soon as they got an American, under USSID 18, they had to turn it off. And then after 9/11, all those USSID 18 rules and regulations they had before 9/11 were thrown out the window. They'd make up these flimsy excuses, like, "Well, suppose an American loses her cell phone and then what happens if a terrorist picks it up." They're bending 180 degrees backwards.

DR: Is that why you joined the ACLU's lawsuit against the agency?

JB: I was outraged the moment I heard what was going on. Of all the journalists out there, I'm the one person who's written more than anyone about NSA. I knew this, this is a big deal. I had written about the horror days of the '50s, '60s, up until the mid-'70s, when they were engaged in this warrantless eavesdropping. The impression I got [previously] was that they were always trying to push back, hard, from the edge. And I hadn't changed that impression, post-9/11.... For NSA to all of a sudden revert back to the bad old days of the '60s and '70s — I thought that was illegal, unethical. I was very angry. I thought NSA shouldn't be doing this.

So then, a couple of weeks later, the ACLU calls me up, and asks me to join a suit. I didn't immediately say, "Yes, hell yeah, I'll do it." I said I'd think about it. Because it was a big thing for me to, all of a sudden, step out of my role as a journalist and a writer and to become a plaintiff against the agency I had written two books about. If I had wanted to play it safe, I would've said, "we'll, ya know, I gotta be a journalist here," thinking I may lose all these sources, starting with Hayden and working my way down. They like me at NSA. [But] I thought they were doing something bad, and I had to do something about it.

There were a lot of people there that got very angry at me for suing the agency they worked for. People that were all in favor of what NSA was doing — which was a lot of people. Ya know, "patriotic, we should be doing this," all that stuff. And I was saying, "Well, I don't mind if you spy on terrorists. But we live in a democracy. There's got to be a buffer here between the people who are targeting the terrorists and the American public."

Water Repelling Metals

Staying dry: A chemically treated plastic surface is rough on the nanoscale, forcing water droplets to form beads that can roll off. GE researchers have now done the same with metal.
Credit: GE Global Research Center

Researchers at GE have come up with a way to treat metals so that they repel water. The extreme water-repelling property, called superhydrophobicity, means that water forms drops on the surface instead of spreading and sticking to it.

The advance builds on previous work that came out of GE's Global Research Center, in Niskayuna, NY. Two years ago, researchers showed that they could make Lexan--a widely employed plastic that's used to create CDs, iPods, aircraft windscreens, and car headlamps--water-repellant. They did this by chemically treating the surface to make it rough. The researchers have now demonstrated the same effect on metal surfaces.

Many other superhydrophobic materials have been demonstrated, but most have used some kind of plastic. Superhydrophobic metals open up many new applications, says Jeffrey Youngblood, a professor of materials engineering at Purdue University. "Metallic structures are more robust and can survive in harsher environments, allowing for their use in applications where plastic is infeasible, [such as in] planes, trains, automobiles, heavy machinery, and engines," Youngblood says.

GE has some ideas about how to use the materials. One possibility is in de-icing aircrafts. Ice buildup on engines due to condensation can be catastrophic. Right now, aircraft use heat to prevent ice, which requires power. De-icing on the ground, meanwhile, is done with de-icing fluids, which contain toxic chemicals; spraying aircraft with de-icing fluids on the ground also takes a lot of time. "It would be very desirable if we could . . . just be able to have a material on which ice didn't stick," says Margaret Blohm, advanced technology leader for the nanotechnology program at GE's Global Research Center.

Another application for the metals could be in gas and steam turbines. The superhydrophobic metals could reduce the buildup of moisture and contaminants on the turbines, increasing their efficiency and requiring fewer shutdowns for maintenance.

GE researchers have not published their work, and they declined to divulge much about their research achievements. But they do say that their inspiration comes from lotus-plant leaves, which have a nanocrystalline wax structure. On the leaf's surface are tiny wax crystals tens of nanometers wide, which hold water drops as almost perfectly spherical beads.

Blohm says that the team is toying with two different approaches to making the metals. One is to texture the metal surface and then put a water-repelling chemical coating on it. The other approach is to leave the metal surface untouched and texture the coating itself. The technique is very general and should work with metals currently used for engines and turbines, such as titanium alloys.

The material's robustness will be key because of the high-performance applications that GE is targeting, says Gareth McKinley, a mechanical-engineering professor at MIT. He thinks that out of the two different approaches to making the superhydrophobic metal, altering the material surface itself would last longer. With a coating, he says, "there's a possibility that it's going to come off or flake off. So something intrinsic to the material will be more robust."

Blohm says that both approaches--roughening the metal or coating it with a textured material--might have their advantages, depending on how the material is used. "Most of the environments we're looking at with metals are rather harsh, whether it's temperature, moisture, corrosion, or other contaminants," she says. "So in some applications, you might choose textured metals that might be more robust, but in others, you might want to have the coating carry the performance with options to replace the coating."

The researchers are testing many different models of superhydrophobic metals. They are tinkering with the texture of the metals and coatings to see what works best in certain harsh environments. The material would eventually have to be tailored to the application, Blohm says. "If we feel good about [a material]--one we know that might be more expensive and maybe not robust enough for the environment, but we see performance in those model textures--then it's worth the investment," she says. "Then we'll work on making it manufacturable and robust in a specific environment."

Texas Teen Builds His Own Electric Car on $10,000 Budget

This fall, Texas teenager Lucas Laborde will be driving to school in an electric car he built himself. The 17 year old spent last summer converting a conventional gas-powered car to run on batteries. Total cost? Around $10,000.

Luke’s EV is based on a kit car, known as a Bradley GT II, which his father bought on eBay for just $5000 splashing out a further $5700 on electric conversion parts and batteries. The rest was left up to Luke’s ingenuity and technical know-how.

After 150 hours of work, Luke had hooked up eight 80-pound lead-acid batteries in the space left after removing the fuel tank, as well as several other ‘creative locations.’ He finished up with an EV capable of travelling 40 miles between charges, a top speed of 45mph, (more than enough for the local school run), and heaps of low-end torque. As Luke told reporters, “it has a lot of power.”

The car isn’t without a few ‘quirks’ though; the weight of the batteries has caused the fiberglas body to twist slightly, meaning that the gull-wing doors don’t completely close. However, by using his own initiative, and making use of widely available existing components, Luke Laborde has put many global car companies to shame by creating a working, highway-ready EV, in far less time and on a much lower budget.

Image Credit - Steve Striharsky at

Market down over 600 on recession fears

NEW YORK ( -- Stocks tumbled Wednesday afternoon as recession fears resurfaced following a weaker-than-expected retail sales report and dour comments on the economy from Ben Bernanke and another Federal Reserve official.

The credit market showed some signs of easing, as a key overnight bank lending rate fell. But the improvement was slowgoing and failed to reassure investors. Global markets were mostly lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell as much as 515 points before pulling back a bit. The decline was equal to around 6.4%. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index lost 5.8% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 5.5%.

"The path of least resistance seems to be down again," said Joseph Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading.

Saluzzi said investors were reacting to the weak economic reports from the morning and the still-sluggish credit market.

Better-than-expected quarterly results from Intel, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and a host of regional banks had little impact amid worries about a recession.

San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy "appears to be in a recession," something many economists, but few Fed officials, have said. Yellen isn't a voting member of the Fed's policy-setting committee this year but is nonetheless seen as influential. (Full story)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking in the afternoon, said that while policymakers now have the tools they need to fix the financial and credit markets, the economic rebound will take time. (Full story)

The Fed's 'beige book' reading on economic activity was due later in the day.

Although Wall Street has welcomed many of the steps the government and world banks have taken to get money flowing again, investors remain skittish. That's partly because a lot of the programs won't kick in until several months from now.

"After all the damage that's been done, it's going to take a while for people to feel confident again," Saluzzi said.

Stocks rallied sharply Monday, with the Dow up 936 points or 11.1%, its best one-day point gain ever and best one-day percentage gain since 1933. The advance was fueled by bets that the United States would follow Europe in pouring money directly into banks in exchange for shares, as part of the $750 billion bailout plan.

But investors took a "sell the news" approach Tuesday after the government detailed plans to invest at least $250 billion in the nation's banks. The Treasury said it will start by investing $125 billion in nine leading banks. (Will it work?)

Last week was Wall Street's worst ever, as the Dow capped a stunning eight-session selloff that cut 2,400 points and 22% off the blue-chip indicator. That erased $2.4 trillion in market value from the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000, the broadest measure of the stock market.

Many market pros are cautiously optimistic that Friday's lows represent the lows of the bear market, or a bottom.

Treasury prices inched higher Wednesday, lowering the corresponding yields. The dollar gained versus the yen and fell against the euro. Oil and gas prices slipped, while gold prices rose.

Everything Is Better Wrapped in Bacon [PICS]

Bacon is the great equalizer in American cuisine. It brings lofty dishes down to earth and elevates the mundane to new heights. It’s not surprising that most vegetarians I know covet the loin strips—or at least dig the smell

read more | digg story

Apple details new MacBook manufacturing process

By Prince McLean

Apple's new MacBook and MacBook Pro feature precision unibody enclosures milled from an extruded block of aluminum, allowing them to get even thinner while retaining rigid durability and a stronger, cleaner, and more polished design. Here's a detailed overview of the process, illustrated with photos.

In a press release touting the new manufacturing process, Steve Jobs said, “Apple has invented a whole new way of building notebooks from a single block of aluminum." (Watch the video)

Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Industrial Design, noted that, "Traditionally notebooks are made from multiple parts. With the new MacBook, we’ve replaced all of those parts with just one part—the unibody. The MacBook’s unibody enclosure is made from a single block of aluminum, making the new MacBook fundamentally thinner, stronger and more robust with a fit and finish that we’ve never even dreamed of before.”

CNC unibody fabrication

The previous MacBook Pro uses a thin, bowl-shaped shell that has an internal skeleton to hold the internal parts together. The top bezel lays on top and is screwed in place on the sides and back edge. These pieces allow for some tolerance, requiring plastic gaskets to fit the components together snugly.

The new 15" MacBook Pro, along with its nearly identical 13.3" MacBook version, start with an extruded block of aluminum that is carved out using CNC or "computer numerical control" machines in a process used by the aerospace industry to build mission critical, high precision components.

The process starts with raw aluminum, selected for its favorable strength to weight ratio and the flexibility it offers in processing and finishing.

New Manufacturing Process

New Manufacturing Process

Extruded aluminum sheets are cut into blocks that undergo 13 separate milling operations.

New Manufacturing Process

Apple uses CNC to precision cut keyboard holes from the face of the slab (below top), mill out the "thumbscoop" that provides enough of a recession to open the display lid comfortably without putting too much pressure on the lid, machine out complex patterns from the inside (below middle) and perforate the speaker grill holes using lasers (below bottom).

New Manufacturing Process

New Manufacturing Process

New Manufacturing Process

A portion of the front edge is milled thin enough that a laser can be used to micro-perforate the metal to allow light from the sleep indicator LED to pass through the metal. When the sleep indicator is off, the metal appears to be solid. Apple has already used this process on the MacBook Air and the Bluetooth Keyboard that shipped last fall alongside the aluminum iMac.

Once the inside is precision cut (below top) leaving a design that is, as Ive observed, "in many ways more beautifully internally than externally", the edges are rounded and polished (below bottom).

New Manufacturing Process

New Manufacturing Process

The environmentally-friendly recycled bits

The material machined from the aluminum block is collected and recycled. Jobs noted that the new MacBooks "are the industry’s greenest notebooks.”

Apple says the entire new MacBook line meets stringent Energy Star 4.0, EPEAT Gold and RoHS environmental standards, and leads the industry in the elimination of toxic chemicals by containing no brominated flame retardants, using only PVC-free internal cables and components, and using energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass.

Glass-faced, LED backlit display

The environmentally-friendly LED backlit display also offers other advantages; it turns on instantly when the display is opened as there is no warm up time required by a conventional cold cathode fluorescent lamp backlight.

It also requires less energy, allowing for 30% better efficiency while providing a brighter, more vivid display, or in the words of Bob Mansfield, Senior Vice President of Mac Hardware, "what you notice as a customer is that the color has a lot more pop."

Unlike the existing MacBook Pro, which houses the display recessed into an aluminum frame, the new design fits the display into a thinner lid and the entire inside face of the panel is covered with a single glass panel similar to the face of the iPhone, with a black margin around the display (below).

New Manufacturing Process

The new MacBook and MacBook Pro are detailed in:

Apple unveils new 13" MacBook
Apple debuts new 15" MacBook Pro

How Cannabis Could Save Your Life

Image: United States Fish and Wildlife Service

The list of medical uses for marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) continues to grow. The Journal of Natural Products recently published a paper outlining the newly isolated antibiotic effects of the class of molecules known as cannabanoids. This group includes the non-psychoactive cannabichromene, cannabigerol, and cannabidiol but also includes the well-known and definitely psychotropic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Researchers believe that the powerful antibiotic effects of cannabanoids can be enlisted in the increasingly difficult fight against MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and other ’superbugs’ that have evolved resistances to most modern antibiotics. MRSA is perhaps the best known of these superbugs, often running rampant in hospitals, with estimates of up to 1.2 million hospital patients becoming infected and possibly over 100,000 patients dying each year in the United States due to lack of effective medicines against them. The known effectiveness of cannabanoids and the fact that they have not been used before, and therefore no bacteria has yet developed a resistance to them, could prove to be a very valuable tool in the arms race against these constantly changing bacterial strains.

microscopic mrsa
Image: Current Global News

In some ways the notion of cannabis having antibiotic effects is counterintuitive. This is because it has been proven that the act of smoking marijuana actually increases vulnerability to infections. This vulnerability however seems to be a result of inhaling marijuana smoke or even smoke in general and likely has little to do with the presence or absence of cannabanoids.

Contrastingly, cannabis sativa itself, when not smoked, has been known since the 1950s to have strong antibacterial properties. However, as the technology of looking into how molecules are structured and how they interact was in its infancy at the time, the researchers were unable to determine which marijuana compounds were actually causing the antibacterial effects. As the social and research climates started to grow increasingly hostile to the investigation of black-listed substances in the US and around the world, antibiotic cannabis studies were soon shelved and ignored until they were finally picked up again fairly recently by modern science.

mrsa on algae dish
Image: Chemung County

With all of the advances in chemical analysis made since the fifties, the new batch of scientists studying cannabis related antibiotics were now able to pinpoint the basic backbone structure that is common to all cannabanoids, to be the active component in killing off bacteria. Now that the bio-active section of the cannabanoid molecules has been identified, researchers and drug makers are busy developing and testing antibiotic drugs as well as considering potential uses for cannabanoids in various soaps and cleaning products. At present they are focusing their efforts on the derivatives of the non-psychoactive cannabanoids. This is presumably because the US FDA, and other governing bodies world-wide, might have a hard time with people getting high in order to cure a bacterial infection; not to mention getting high by just washing their hands.


Luxury Mandarin Oriental Debuts in Boston

A new Mandarin Oriental hotel has opened in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, where it plans to be one of the city's most prestigious properties. Approximately 13 years in the making due to ongoing construction delays and a fire earlier this year, the hotel officially celebrated its grand opening last week at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

"We are delighted to open this incomparable new hotel in the celebrated city of Boston," General Manager Susanne Hatje said in a statement. "With the commitment of our dedicated colleagues, we look forward to bringing Mandarin Oriental's renowned levels of hospitality to this historic American city."

The Mandarin Oriental, Boston features 136 rooms, 12 suites, a 16,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, and 10,000 square feet of function space. That space includes three meeting rooms—the largest of which is 1,280 square feet—a 1,950-square-foot pre-function space called the Oriental Gallery, as well as a 4,200-square-foot ballroom that can accommodate as many as 600 guests and is divisible into two smaller spaces.

Additionally, the new hotel offers high-speed wired and wireless Internet access, as well as full-service meeting planning services, including on-site event staff, catering services and audio/visual support.

For more information on the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, visit

The Future Is Here: Baby "Engineered" To Save Older Brother


Little Javier, born this past Sunday, is the first “genetically engineered” baby in Spain to be both free of his family’s hereditary disease and transplant-compatible with his older brother. His family decided to undergo a genetic pre-implant diagnosis treatment, hoping both for a second child, and a cure for their older son. The family, from Cadiz in southern Spain, had their first child, Andres, only to discover that he suffered from a rare hereditary disease called Beta Thalassaemia major. The disease causes the body to fail to produce enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells, so 6-year-old Andres would only be expected to live about ten years unless he had aggressive treatment.

When the parents discussed having a second child, they realized they might have found a cure for Andres at the same time. If Javier could be sure to be free of the disease, and also an immunological match for Andres, he would be the ideal donor for a vital bone marrow transplant to Andres. So the parents went for it.

After the green light from the National Commission for Assisted Reproduction, Javier and Andres’ parents chose to resort to a genetic pre-implant diagnosis; a technique that allows [one] to verify if an embryo is healthy from a genetic point of view, before transferring it to the mother’s uterus. For this type of diagnosis, absolutely prohibited in Italy, the embryo obtained by ‘in vitro’ fertilization’ is genetically examined to verify that it does not carry any diseases.

Once Javier was born, doctors were able to determine that he was indeed an immunological match, and his cord blood was stored in a blood-bank for a future transplant to Andres. Up until this point, none of the medical treatments have worked for the older son, and a transplant became the only way to save him.

According to doctors, the blood in [Javier’s] umbilical cord will be used in a bone marrow transplant for his brother, so the boy will be able to start producing healthy red blood cells. “The possibility of healing the boy after the transplant is very high.”

Jesus, imagine the guilt potential between these two. “Javier took my truck!” “But I was born to save you from certain death.” Yeah, shit, they’re either going to be specially bonded besties, or bitter mortal enemies over this drama.

What do you think: Is it wrong to genetically screen our embryos? What about “designing” your baby to help another one of your kids?

Welcome to the Cocaine Factory of Sierra Nevada

In the jungle-clad mountains of the Sierra Nevada, we visited a cocaine lab run by a coca farmer. How do you make cocaine? Take some coca leaves, a number of nasty substances, add some bullets, some scary para-military soldiers, a dash of guerrillas, some corrupt cops and a pinch of coca farmer, and you've got one of the world's deadliest drug ***tails.

The 10 Best Foods You Aren't Eating

Want To Do Your Body a World of Good? It's as Easy as Expanding Your Grocery List.


Swiss Chard, Guava, Cinnamon and Beets
Guavas, beets and cinnamon are among the super-healthful foods that you should probably be getting more of in your diet.
(ABC News / Getty Images)

Although some guys aren't opposed to smoking some weed, most wouldn't think of eating one. It's a shame, really, since a succulent weed named purslane is not only delicious but also among the world's healthiest foods.

Of course, there are many superfoods that never see the inside of a shopping cart. Some you've never heard of, and others you've simply forgotten about. That's why we've rounded up the best of the bunch. Make a place for them on your table and you'll instantly upgrade your health -- without a prescription.


These grungy-looking roots are naturally sweeter than any other vegetable, which means they pack tons of flavor under-neath their rugged exterior.

Why they're healthy: Think of beets as red spinach. Just like Popeye's powerfood, this crimson vegetable is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments -- called betacyanins -- that give beets their color have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.

How to eat them: Fresh and raw, not from a jar. Heating beets actually decreases their antioxidant power. For a simple single-serving salad, wash and peel one beet, and then grate it on the widest blade of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon.

You can eat the leaves and stems, which are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Simply cut off the stems just below the point where the leaves start, and wash thoroughly. They're now ready to be used in a salad. Or, for a side dish, sauté the leaves, along with a minced clove of garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.


Absent from most American kitchens, this cruciferous vegetable is a major player in European and Asian diets.

Why it's healthy: One cup of chopped cabbage has just 22 calories, and it's loaded with valuable nutrients. At the top of the list is sulforaphane, a chemical that increases your body's production of enzymes that disarm cell-damaging free radicals and reduce your risk of cancer. In fact, Stanford University scientists determined that sulforaphane boosts your levels of these cancer-fighting enzymes higher than any other plant chemical.

How to eat it: Put cabbage on your burgers to add a satisfying crunch. Or, for an even better sandwich topping or side salad, try an Asian-style slaw. Here's what you'll need:

4 Tbsp peanut or canola oil

Juice of two limes

1 Tbsp sriracha, an Asian chili sauce you can find in the international section of your grocery store

1 head napa cabbage, finely chopped or shredded

1/4 cup toasted peanuts

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Whisk together the oil, lime juice, and sriracha. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving. The slaw will keep in your fridge for 2 days.


Guava is an obscure tropical fruit that's subtly acidic, with sweetness that intensifies as you eat your way to the center.

Why it's healthy: Guava has a higher concentration of lycopene -- an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer -- than any other plant food, including tomatoes and watermelon. In addition, 1 cup of the stuff provides 688 milligrams (mg) of potassium, which is 63 percent more than you'll find in a medium banana. And guava may be the ultimate high-fiber food: There's almost 9 grams (g) of fiber in every cup.

How to eat it: Down the entire fruit, from the rind to the seeds. It's all edible -- and nutritious. The rind alone has more vitamin C than you'd find in the flesh of an orange. You can score guava in the produce section of higher-end supermarkets or in Latin grocery stores.

Swiss chard

Hidden in the leafy-greens cooler of your market, you'll find this slightly bitter, salty vegetable, which is actually native to the Mediterranean.

Why it's healthy: A half cup of cooked Swiss chard provides a huge amount of both lutein and zeaxanthin, supplying 10 mg each. These plant chemicals, known as carotenoids, protect your retinas from the damage of aging, according to Harvard researchers. That's because both nutrients, which are actually pigments, appear to accumulate in your retinas, where they absorb the type of shortwave light rays that can damage your eyes. So the more lutein and zeaxanthin you eat, the better your internal eye protection will be.

How to eat it: Chard goes great with grilled steaks and chicken, and it also works well as a bed for pan-seared fish. Wash and dry a bunch of Swiss chard, and then chop the leaves and stems into 1-inch pieces. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok, and add two garlic cloves that you've peeled and lightly crushed. When the oil smokes lightly, add the chard. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the leaves wilt and the stems are tender. Remove the garlic cloves and season the chard with salt and pepper.


This old-world spice usually reaches most men's stomachs only when it's mixed with sugar and stuck to a roll.

Why it's healthy: Cinnamon helps control your blood sugar, which influences your risk of heart disease. In fact, USDA researchers found that people with type-2 diabetes who consumed 1 g of cinnamon a day for 6 weeks (about 1/4 teaspoon each day) significantly reduced not only their blood sugar but also their triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Credit the spice's active ingredients, methylhydroxychalcone polymers, which increase your cells' ability to metabolize sugar by up to 20 times.

How to eat it: You don't need the fancy oils and extracts sold at vitamin stores; just sprinkle the stuff that's in your spice rack (or in the shaker at Starbucks) into your coffee or on your oatmeal.


Although the FDA classifies purslane as a broad-leaved weed, it's a popular vegetable and herb in many other countries, including China, Mexico, and Greece.

Why it's healthy: Purslane has the highest amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fats of any edible plant, according to researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The scientists also report that this herb has 10 to 20 times more melatonin -- an antioxidant that may inhibit cancer growth -- than any other fruit or vegetable tested.

How to eat it: In a salad. Think of purslane as a great alternative or addition to lettuce: The leaves and stems are crisp, chewy, and succulent, and they have a mild lemony taste. Look for it at your local farmer's market, or Chinese or Mexican market. It's also available at some Whole Foods stores, as an individual leafy green or in premade salad mixes.

Pomegranate juice

A popular drink for decades in the Middle East, pomegranate juice has become widely available only recently in the United States.

Why it's healthy: Israeli scientists discovered that men who downed just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for a year decreased their systolic (top number) blood pressure by 21 percent and significantly improved bloodflow to their hearts. What's more, 4 ounces provides 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.

How to drink it: Try 100 percent pomegranate juice from Pom Wonderful. It contains no added sugars, and because it's so powerful, a small glassful is all you need. (For a list of retailers, go to

Goji berries

These raisin-size fruits are chewy and taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. More important, these potent berries have been used as a medicinal food in Tibet for over 1,700 years.

Why they're healthy: Goji berries have one of the highest ORAC ratings -- a method of gauging antioxidant power -- of any fruit, according to Tufts University researchers. And although modern scientists began to study this ancient berry only recently, they've found that the sugars that make goji berries sweet reduce insulin resistance -- a risk factor of diabetes -- in rats.

How to eat them: Mix dried or fresh goji berries with a cup of plain yogurt, sprinkle them on your oatmeal or cold cereal, or enjoy a handful by themselves. You can find them at specialty supermarkets or at

Dried plums

You may know these better by the moniker "prunes," which are indelibly linked with nursing homes and bathroom habits. And that explains why, in an effort to revive this delicious fruit's image, producers now market them under another name.

Why they're healthy: Prunes contain high amounts of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, antioxidants that are particularly effective at combating the "superoxide anion radical." This nasty free radical causes structural damage to your cells, and such damage is thought to be one of the primary causes of cancer.

How to eat them: As an appetizer. Wrap a paper-thin slice of prosciutto around each dried plum and secure with a toothpick. Bake in a 400°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the plums are soft and the prosciutto is crispy. Most of the fat will cook off, and you'll be left with a decadent-tasting treat that's sweet, savory, and healthy.

Pumpkin seeds

These jack-o'-lantern waste products are the most nutritious part of the pumpkin.

Why they're healthy: Downing pumpkin seeds is the easiest way to consume more magnesium. That's important because French researchers recently determined that men with the highest levels of magnesium in their blood have a 40 percent lower risk of early death than those with the lowest levels. And on average, men consume 353 mg of the mineral daily, well under the 420 mg minimum recommended by the USDA.

How to eat them: Whole, shells and all. (The shells provide extra fiber.) Roasted pumpkin seeds contain 150 mg of magnesium per ounce; add them to your regular diet and you'll easily hit your daily target of 420 mg. Look for them in the snack or health-food section of your grocery store, next to the peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

Antioxidants, Explained

The science is clear: Plant foods are good for you. And the credit often goes to chemicals they produce called antioxidants. Just as the name suggests, antioxidants help protect your cells against oxidation. Think of oxidation as rust. This rust is caused by free radicals, which are unstable oxygen atoms that attack your cells, inducing DNA damage that leads to cancer. Thankfully, antioxidants help stabilize free radicals, which keeps the rogue atoms from harming your cells.

So by eating more antioxidant-rich foods, you'll boost the amount of the disease-fighting chemicals floating in your bloodstream. The result: Every bite fortifies your body with all-natural preventive medicine.

Eight More Superfoods You Should Eat

Want to build more muscle, prevent disease, and live longer? It's as easy as changing your diet: Take out the packaged, processed foods, and add fresh ingredients to your meals.

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS is a board certified nutritionist with graduate degrees in nutrition and psychology.

For more on the best foods you're not eating, click here.

Visit the New York Times Website.

Visit the Men's Health Website.

The most amazing freestyle/urban/trials bike rider alive?

Danny Macaskill : Next level street trials from brainchild-films on Vimeo.

Awesome Abandoned Airfields, Airports and Aircraft [42 PICS]

Air travel has become a major part of our society, with industries and individuals depending on air transport for their livelihood. But have you ever wondered what happens to the artifacts of our airborne culture when they're no longer needed?

read more | digg story

The seven most unhealthy choices at a Chinese restaurant

Tina Peng
Newsweek Web Exclusive

The next time you're at a Chinese restaurant, back away from the fried rice and think twice about General Tso's chicken--many dishes are loaded with sodium, oil and carbs, says Jayne Hurley, a senior nutritionist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Hurley and Bonnie Liebman published "Chinese Restaurant Food: Wok Carefully," an analysis of options from national Chinese food chains, last year. Her picks for some of the worst offenders on the menu, as well as a few ways to make your meal a little healthier:

1 and 2. Fried rice and lo mein: "Those dishes are basically three quarters of a day's calories, and you're just getting four or five cups of white rice or white noodles with oil and a sprinkling of vegetables," Hurley says. They're especially dangerous because they're often served alongside people's main orders, she says, and deliver "not much more than a smattering of vegetables or protein from the meat." Hurley thinks people should steer clear entirely of the noodle dishes and instead focus on choices that'll deliver a few more nutrients, such as mixed vegetables or tofu.

3. Chow fun: This dish is made of wider rice noodles and might taste more healthy than lo mein, but it's not. "The noodles are thicker, but they're going to do the same damage to your belly and blood pressure as the lo mein," she says.

4. Crispy (orange) beef: Many meat-based menu items simply offer "hunks of fried meat," she says. "What you're getting is three quarters of a pound of deep-fried meat, garnished with vegetables," she says. The same goes for sweet and sour pork.

5. Lemon chicken: A plate of lemon chicken contains 1,400 calories, two thirds of a day's fat and no vegetables. "It's like eating three McDonald's McChicken sandwiches and a 32-ounce Coke," Hurley says.

6. General Tso's chicken: Though some restaurantgoers think chicken is a healthier option than pork and beef, it isn't necessarily. General Tso's chicken features breaded, deep-fried chicken chunks that are then soaked in sauce; Hurley and Liebman found that one plate has about 1,300 calories and half a day's worth of saturated fat—"so about the same as pork," Hurley says.

7. Barbequed spare ribs: These "appetizers" pack a punch—one plate of spare ribs carries two thirds of a day's worth of saturated fat and 600 calories. That's the same amount of calories as in two pork chops, Hurley says. "I don't think people would eat two pork chops as an appetizer, but they sure do eat four spare ribs," she says. Dumplings, steamed or pan-fried, are much more health-friendly, she says.

The best way to cut the sodium out of your Chinese restaurant meal is to opt for steamed vegetables, but that's no fun. Luckily, Hurley's quick to offer healthier and still-delicious options. Stir-fried dishes, such as shrimp with garlic sauce, Szechuan shrimp, moo goo gai pan and chicken with black bean sauce all contain less than 1,000 calories a plate, she says, and vegetarian dishes such as Buddha's Delight, stir-fried mixed vegetables, ma po tofu and Szechuan string beans also are healthier. Still, she cautions that these alternatives are all still heavy on the salt, so think about ordering the sauce on the side.

Hayden Panettiere PSA: Vote for McCain

See more Hayden Panettiere videos at Funny or Die

What Makes a Car "Cool"?

As the November 17 deadline for our annual XM Coolest Car Challenge quickly approaches, we wanted to hear your opinion on what exactly makes a car cool.

We know, we know, it's a shameless plug -- but the topic at hand does have an truly intriguing aspect to it.

So, without further ado, what makes a "cool" car?

Is it its design, sound, price, heritage or a blend of other attributes?

What are the top three "coolest cars" currently in production?

Also, don't forget to compile your list of coolest cars at the contest's official site for your chance to win $10,000.

Top 10 Cars for Driving Fast (without getting caught)

So you're cruising down the highway when you suddenly hit a nice, long stretch of gloriously open road. Time to downshift and see what your new Lotus Elise can do, right? Well sadly before you can say "zero to sixty in four point four seconds" your rearview mirror fills with the flashing lights of the highway patrol -- you're busted, they spotted you a mile away and were just waiting for you to punch it. It's times like these when your bright yellow roadster that looks so good rolling up at the club seems like less of a good idea.

Honda Civic Si

If you're really looking to make good time on the road, instead of the latest supercar it might be better to get something that flies a bit more -- shall we say -- under the radar. Cars like this have many names (sleepers, stealth cars, Q-ships) but they all serve the same purpose -- to allow you to drive at a (responsibly) high speed without instantly getting in a Dukes of Hazzard-style showdown with the fuzz. Sure, they may not be the hottest looking vehicles on the planet, but what's the use of having a sleek sports coupe when you're tooling along in the slow lane, afraid of getting points on your license? So if you're tired of checking the rearview every time you hit fourth gear and want to take the Q-ship plunge, it's time to ask yourself the following question:

What are the 10 best sleeper cars you can buy today?

MazdaSpeed 3

Something masquerading as a boring old economy/family/luxury car that secretly hides some serious high-speed mechanicals is best -- and no, the "sports" trim of a frugal econobox doesn't count, a true stealth car is genuinely quick, preferably with a 0 to 60 mph time of 6 seconds or better. That said, a sleeper also needs to blend in with the crowd, so if it's a special go-fast version of a regular car it should sport as few ground effects, flared fenders, hood scoops, and wings as possible -- the Dodge SRT4 and Mitsubishi EVO may be based on the lowly Caliber and Lancer, respectively, but their styling "upgrades" draw unwanted attention.

Hyundai Genesis

Based on a balance of speed and relative anonymity, sedans, wagons, and SUVs are better than coupes or convertibles, and (with some exceptions) really expensive iron like Mercedes' AMG line is just too flashy. So with that in mind, here's our take on the top 10 Q-ships on the market, in order of worst to best:

10. Honda Civic Si sedan (197-hp four-cylinder, 6.7 sec)

9. Mazdaspeed3 (263-hp turbo-four, 5.8 sec)

8. Hyundai Genesis V-8 (368-hp V-8, 5.8 sec)

Buick Lacrosse Super

7. Chevrolet Cobalt SS sedan/HHR SS (260-hp turbo-four, 5.5 sec/250-hp turbo-four, 6.3 sec)

6. Volvo S80 V-8 (311-hp V-8, 6.0 sec)

5. Buick Lacrosse Super (300-hp V-8, 5.7 sec)

4. Honda Accord V-6 (271-hp V-6, 5.5 sec)

3. Subaru Legacy GT Spec B (243-hp turbo-four, 5.4 sec)

Chevrolet HHR SS

2. Lexus GS 460 (342-hp V-8, 5.2 sec)

1. Audi S8 (450-hp V-10, 4.9 sec)

Honorable Mention: Chevrolet Impala SS, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, Saab 9-3 Aero, Audi S4/S4 Avant, Audi S6/S6 Avant

What's your opinion -- are these perfect sleeper cars, or is driving one fast still asking for trouble? And are we leaving any good Q ships out? Of course if you think the whole sleeper car theory is bunk you're more than welcome to fly down the highway in your neon green 350Z with gold rims, neon underbody lights, and a three-foot wing on the back -- just don't say you weren't warned.

Volvo S80 V-8
Honda Accord V-6
Subaru Legacy GT Spec B
Lexus GS 460