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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Contact Lens Kinda Makes You Cyborgy

This one’s kinda hard to swallow so take a deep breath, open your minds, and pretend it’s 2100. I CONTACT is essentially a mouse fitted to your eyeball. The lens is inserted like any other normal contact lens except it’s laced with sensors to track eye movement, relaying that position to a receiver connected to your computer. Theoretically that should give you full control over a mouse cursor. I’d imagine holding a blink correlates to mouse clicks.

The idea was originally created for people with disabilities but anyone could use it. Those of us too lazy to use a mouse now have a free hand to do whatever it is people do when they sit at the computer for endless hours. I love the idea but there is a caveat. How is the lens powered? Perhaps in the future, electrical power can be harnessed from the human body, just not in a Matrix creepy-like way.

Designers: Eun-Gyeong Gwon & Eun-Jae Lee

The Most Fun you can have in the Snow! Lamborghini LP 560-4

$5,000 for each passenger on ditched jet

Engine in water crash might have been found

Image: Inspectors view jet
Rich Schultz / AP
NTSB inspectors examine the left wing of the US Airways Airbus jet as it sits on a barge in Jersey City, N.J. on Monday.

NEW YORK - Police and federal marine agents searching the Hudson River with sonar equipment for the left engine of US Airways Flight 1549 said Tuesday that they've found what appears to be an object of the same size.

The object is 16 feet long and 8 feet wide. It's in about 60 feet of water north of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum where boats resumed searching Tuesday.

The New York Police Department said the currents were too strong to put a robotic device into the murky water to confirm whether the object is the engine. Divers were in the water trying to examine the object for a few hours but suspended the search as darkness fell.

The Airbus A320 crash-landed in the Hudson last week after hitting birds and losing thrust in both engines. All 155 people on board survived. The rest of the plane was taken to a New Jersey marina over the weekend.

The airline has sent $5,000 checks to each of the 150 passengers to compensate them for lost luggage and other belongings.

In a letter sent to passengers, an airline executive said she was "truly sorry." The letter also explained that passengers' belongings left in the plane could be stuck with investigators for months.

The airline also said it would reimburse passengers for their ticket costs.

Earlier engine trouble
Investigators on Monday reported that the US Airways jetliner had experienced an engine compressor failure two days before the accident last week.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said the board's examination of the Airbus 320's maintenance records show "there was an entry in the aircraft's maintenance log that indicates a compressor stall occurred on Jan. 13." The compressor, or fan, draws air into the engine.

He said the flight had a different pilot that day, and the board planned to interview that pilot to learn more about the incident.

NTSB investigators so far have not uncovered "any anomalies or malfunctions with Flight 1549 from the time it left the gate at LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 15 to the point the pilot reported a birdstrike and loss of engine power," Knudson said. Pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was able to glide to plane to an emergency river landing and there were no fatalities.

CNN reported Monday that passengers on the Flight 1549 that left LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 13 reported hearing loud bangs followed by an announcement from the pilot that the aircraft was either returning to LaGuardia or going to try to land — there were differing accounts of the pilot's statements.

However, passengers said that a short time later the situation appeared to return to normal and the flight continued on to Charlotte, N.C., CNN said.

It's not unusual for a flight to continue on to its destination after a compressor stall if the engine returns to normal functioning.

Probe to last a year
The probe into the crash-landing of the US Airways jetliner will take a year, and the lessons learned from the spectacular accident will last much longer, Robert Benzon, a senior NTSB investigator, said.

"I think this one is going to be studied for decades," said Benzon, chief investigator on the case.

Benzon said the fact that all 155 people aboard the plane survived removes the guilt and finger-pointing that sometimes accompany aviation accidents. He said lessons learned from the successful ditching into the Hudson River could improve air safety.

"In one like this, I think there's potential for a lot of good to come out of it, long-term good," he said.

The airliner was at a New Jersey salvage yard Monday, where it was being guarded by company workers, federal investigators and New York City police.

"I was surprised at how intact the plane was," said James Marchioni, a manager at Weeks Marine in Jersey City, N.J. "There were some bottom panels that were damaged. Other than that, it looked pretty good."

Marchioni said the NTSB estimated it would take "a week or two" to disassemble the plane so the parts can be shipped to an undisclosed location for closer examination.

The search for the plane's missing left engine was suspended until Tuesday because ice floes in the river made it too dangerous to put divers or special sonar equipment in the water.

Sullenberger has been lauded for safely landing the plane in the frigid river after both engines shutdown less than two minutes after takeoff.

'Just doing our job'
President-elect Barack Obama said Monday he had spoken with the California pilot, who told him, "Me and my crew, we were just doing our job.'

"And it made me think, if everybody did their job — whatever that job was — as well as that pilot did his job, we'd be in pretty good shape," Obama said. Sullenberger, his crew and family were invited by Obama to attend Tuesday's inauguration.

The five-member crew, including three flight attendants, has been besieged for media interviews. The crew and the airline released separate statements Monday pleading for privacy.

The crew said they "wish to offer their sincere thanks and appreciation for the overwhelming support, praise and well wishes they have received from the public around the world since the events of last Thursday."

They said they are willing to do media interviews "when the time is right."

The airline said it was "extremely proud of the professional crew of Flight 1549," but said that it and union leaders would "determine when media interviews are appropriate."

The crew did speak with the NTSB, and Benzon said investigators would spend much time analyzing the crew's choices.

Baby calls 911 and gets dad arrested

The Canadian Press

WHITE ROCK, B.C. — A B.C. man probably wishes he had given his 11-month-old son a set of keys to play with instead of a phone, after the infant accidentally dialled 911 and brought police to dad's marijuana grow operation.

Mounties say a 911 call came in from a White Rock, B.C., residence Friday morning but whoever was on the other end of the line hung up.

Officers arrived at the residence and after numerous knocks on the door went unanswered, they entered the home.

“The gentleman was quite surprised,” said White Rock RCMP Const. Janelle Canning.

She said the 29-year-old male, startled by the sudden sight of police, insisted he hadn't made the call.

When it was suggested a child might have dialled, the father objected and said his son was far too young.

That's when police spotted the baby boy, phone in hand.

“We saw him playing with the cordless phone and just pressing all the buttons, so evidently he had called 911,” Const. Canning said.

With that mystery solved, officers began inspecting the residence and soon discovered a 500-plant marijuana grow operation.

The father was arrested and will appear in court in early April on charges of production of a controlled substance and mischief.

The boy was removed from the home by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, though he was later released into his mother's custody.

The mother does not live in the residence and Const. Canning says she had no idea what was going on at the home.

Parrot banned from football ground for imitating referee's whistle

A parrot has been banished from a football ground because it kept imitating the referee's whistle during an crunch match.
Blowing the whistle: Parrot banned from football ground for imitating referee's whistle
Blowing the whistle: 10 minutes into the second-half the parrot began mimicking the referee's whistle, causing confusion on and off the pitch Photo: AP

The seven-goal shoot-out between Hatfield Town and Hertford Heath turned to chaos when the bright green parrot began distracting players, causing the match to stop and start repeatedly.

The bird had turned heads before kick-off in Hertfordshire when a woman brought it to the match in a cage.

It behaved itself for the first-half of the quarter-final cup tie between the two non-league teams, watching play swing from end to end.

But 10 minutes into the second-half it began mimicking the referee's whistle, causing confusion on and off the pitch.

The match was halted and the woman and her parrot were told to leave the pitch-side.

Referee Gary Bailey said: "I've never known anything like it in my football career.

"It was a big game and there were quite a lot of people there.

"This woman was standing right by the touchline and suddenly unveiled a big cage with this big green parrot in it.

"I didn't mind at first. But then every time I blew my whistle the bird made exactly the same sound.

"The players all stopped so I had to ask her to move the parrot.

"It was bizarre. The crowd were all laughing.

"Looking back I should have made far more of it and got out my red card to show to the parrot."

Hatfield Town swooped into the semi-final of the Hertfordshire Senior Centenary Trophy beating Hertford Heath 5-2 after extra-time.

Billionaire grew up castrating bulls, eating snake hearts

NetApp founder shares unusual life story in new memoir

By Jon Brodkin , Network World , 01/21/2009

If you're surprised that the founder of an IT company is familiar with the intimate details of bull castration, then you haven't read the life story of Dave Hitz.

The founder and executive vice president of storage company NetApp, Hitz published his tale this week in a memoir titled "How to Castrate a Bull: Unexpected Lessons on Risk, Growth, and Success in Business."

The title is meant to be taken literally – Hitz worked on a cattle ranch during college.

The cover of David Hitz's new book

"If someone gave you a dull pocket knife, pointed out a five hundred pound bull calf, and said 'jump that fence and cut off his [testicles],' would you do it?" Hitz writes.

There seem to be many other unusual and interesting aspects of Hitz's life. For example… well, let's just let him tell it:

"I am the product of a tryst in a squalid Times Square flophouse and was raised by a brothel owner and his opium-using wife. I am a high school dropout who started college at 14. My youth was spent hitchhiking and cutting the testicles off bulls. I sold my blood for money. I am an ordained minister and an atheist. I once ate dog meat and the still-beating heart of a snake. I made a billion dollars and I lost a billion dollars. I am presently employed as a shaman.

"Or . . . I can say that I am the son of comfortable and educated middle-class parents. My father was an aerospace engineer while my mother took care of the three children. I went to college and studied to become an engineer like my father. I earned a computer science degree from Princeton in 1986 and headed off to Silicon Valley to write software. In 1992 I joined two colleagues to start a data storage firm called NetApp, where I still work today.

"Both accounts are true. My story, like everyone's, depends on the circumstance in which it is told."

Those are the first three paragraphs of "Chapter Zero," a reference to what Hitz calls the "ancient battle" about whether to start counting at "one" or "zero."

As a young teen, Hitz started taking high school classes in the morning and college classes in the afternoon at George Washington University. Eventually he attended Deep Springs College, "a two-year liberal arts school located on a cattle ranch and alfalfa farm in California's high desert."

Students worked the ranch when not studying. "Before Deep Springs, I could never have imagined performing rudimentary surgery on a touchy region of an enormous, angry beast; now I've done hundreds. Risk can be managed."

At one point, Hitz took a break from college and spent two summers as a paid cowboy for Deep Springs. Hitz explains that ranch life demanded self-sufficiency, a quality that's important whether you are castrating bulls or building and selling computers. "Years later, these lessons were surprisingly relevant in Silicon Valley start-up companies," Hitz writes. "Not the details, but the attitudes and styles of thinking."

Hitz spends much of the book discussing what happened after he moved to Silicon Valley in 1986 and began working at a series of start-ups, and the various business problems he faced and how he approached them. In 1992 Hitz teamed with James Lau to found NetApp, which today is a prominent player in the world of enterprise storage.

Hitz describes in detail the evolution of NetApp and, of course, does not omit the vendor's sales pitch. "Even though we sell big systems full of disk drives, mostly what customers like about us is that we help them manage all that data more efficiently and easily than our competitors," Hitz writes. (Compare storage products.)

But at various points in the 200-page book Hitz takes a break from talking business to focus on some of the humorous passages referenced in Chapter Zero

Some are not nearly as sordid as they initially sound. The "tryst in a squalid Times Square flophouse" occurred when his parents stopped in New York on their way to Europe and ended up in a low-cost hotel because of bad planning and bad luck. Hitz's mother is described as an "opium-using wife" because on a trip to India her tour group came upon a desert hut where nearby "wizened old men" were stirring a pot of liquid. She drank some to be polite, and was then told she had ingested opium.
And Hitz's father became a "brothel owner" unwittingly after buying property in Northern California. A con artist rented out the property illegally to "an enterprising woman and her two grown daughters, who established the property as the local whorehouse."

A local sheriff informed Hitz's father of the situation, but kicking the prostitutes out was not so easy.

"Evicting anyone in California is tough, but tossing out pregnant women is especially hard," Hitz writes. "So, for the next couple years, at any one time, at least one of the women was pregnant, staving off any attempt to clear them out. My grandfather, who lived nearby, collected the rent for my parents until my grandmother found out and put a stop to it. Eventually, my parents did extricate themselves from being brothel owners, and later the property paid their kids' college tuition."

A couple other Hitz stories that are given explanation include him selling blood for money and eating the still-beating heart of snake.

Between stints at Deep Springs ranch, Hitz was living in San Francisco and, short on cash, started selling his plasma for $8 twice a week (plasma can be drawn safely more often than whole blood). His mother was appalled.

While discussing bull castration as "a metaphor for learning to take risk," Hitz mentions the time his girlfriend "arranged a special Vietnamese meal for me: snake prepared seven ways."

"As the guest of honor, I knew I'd be the one to eat the raw heart," Hitz writes. "What I hadn't realized was that it would still be beating when I swallowed it."

This leads to a discussion about which risks are worth taking. For Hitz, eating the snake heart was a good bet. He ended up marrying the girl.

In a later chapter, Hitz touches briefly on his religious beliefs while discussing the difference between scientific truths and useful truths. "I believe that individuals are sometimes better off believing things that may not be scientifically true," he writes. "What if believing in God makes people happier and more successful, independent of whether God actually exists?"

And of course, Hitz gives a half-page primer on the fine art of castrating a bull. After all it is the book's title and the cover page has a picture of a pocket knife.

The half page description includes gruesome details related to the bull's affected areas, but we'll quote selectively here. (You can get the whole book at Amazon anyway).

"Warning: Do not use a sharp knife no matter how much the bull begs," Hitz lectures. "A sharp cut bleeds dangerously, but a dull fray creates more surface area to induce clotting. Leave the wound undressed and release the animal. Repeat until you've finished the herd. Then cross Castrate a Bull off your list of things to do before you die."

All contents copyright 1995-2009 Network World, Inc. http://www.networkworld.com

Half a billion pound bail - out for 2012 Olympics



| Source: Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - The government released hundreds of millions of pounds of contingency funds on Wednesday to keep work on the London Olympic 2012 venues on track amid a worsening credit crunch.

It also announced the media centre would be completely funded from public coffers after its planned private partner failed to secure sufficient loans.

The government released 496 million pounds from the 2 billion-pound contingency fund, with the bulk, 326 million pounds, going to the athletes' village.

This included 95 million pounds of contingency announced last October.

About 135 million pounds will go towards the International Broadcast and Main Press Centres (IBC/MPC) -- meeting the shortfall left by the absence of private sector funding. The centre will be permanent, with some temporary fixtures.

A further 35 million pounds will go towards projects including the aquatics centre, main stadium and handball arena.

The overall budget for the Games remains 9.3 billion pounds and there is sufficient contingency, the government added.

"With private sector funding now much more difficult to secure because of the global economic downturn, it is right that we take steps to safeguard these projects," Olympics minister Tessa Jowell said in a statement.

Olympic organisers had warned last year that the inability to secure bank loans could result in possible shortfalls in the two public-private projects.

Talks are continuing between Olympic organisers and Lend Lease, an Australian developer, over private investment for the estimated 1 billion-pound athletes' village.

The slump in property prices, which could damage the chances of recouping money from the village after the Games, has already resulted in the number of post-Olympic apartments being reduced from 4,200 to about 3,000.

Cheaper construction costs meant 25 million pounds had been saved on the 355 million-pound media centre.

(Editing by Astrid Zweynert)

Do police have the right to confiscate your camera?

Photography is Not a Crime header image 2

By Carlos Miller
Seconds after BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant, police immediately began confiscating cell phones containing videos that have yet to see the light of day.

In fact, the only videos that have been seen by the public were filmed by people who managed to leave the scene before police confronted them.

In one instance, police chased after Karina Vargas after she stepped on the train, banging on the window after the doors closed and demanding her to turn over the camera. The train sped away with Vargas still holding her camera.

Her video, which did not show the actual shooting but captured the turmoil before and after, was one of the first to pop up on the internet. And soon after more videos popped up showing the actual shooting.

In the most vivid video, the train doors can be seen closing seconds after the shooting as the train speeds away.

But the truth is, police had no legal right to confiscate a single camera.

“Cops may be entitled to ask for people’s names and addresses and may even go as far as subpoenaing the video tape, but as far as confiscating the camera on the spot, no,” said Marc Randazza, A First Amendment attorney based out of Florida and a Photography is Not a Crime reader.

Bert P. Krages II, the Oregon attorney who drafted the widely distributed The Photographer’s Rights guide, responded to my inquiry with the following e-mail message:

“In general, police cannot confiscate cameras or media without some sort of court order. One exception is when a camera is actually being used in the commission of crime (e.g., child pornography, counterfeiting, upskirting).”

It didn’t appear that the BART videos were being used in a commission of a crime, so what could people have done to prevent police from illegally confiscating their cameras?

“Probably not a whole lot,” said Randazza. “You don’t want to get into a situation where you are refusing to comply with law enforcement, especially when that law enforcement officer just shot and killed somebody. No camera is worth losing your life over.”

But what can you do if you’re as stubborn as me and have a tendency to refuse unlawful orders?

“Make sure you have an attorney that specializes in First Amendment law,” he said during Monday’s phone interview. “Make sure you have his cell phone and home number. Sometimes calling an attorney on the spot can be helpful.”

Needless to say, I now have Randazza’s cell phone number programed into my cell phone.

-30-

I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar. And feel free to join my Facebook blog network to keep updated on the latest articles.

Gisele: We Are Not Engaged

Supermodel Denies Reports Of Engagement To Brady

Gisele Bundchen said she and Tom Brady are not, despite several reports to the contrary, engaged to be married.Photos: Tom & Gisele

However, Bundchen told the magazine Caras, in her native Brazil, that she and Brady will marry someday, according to an account of the interview in The Boston Herald.

“I will realize the dream of marriage, to have children and a family, of course. I’m sorry (to) disappoint you, there is no date set yet,” Bundchen said. “I’m in love and you will see my wedding on the right day.”Bundchen told the magazine that she was surprised by two separate stories of the engagement in the past month.“I don’t know how people are so creative,” said Bundchen. “First they said he proposed to me in a plane. Imagine, it was Dec. 24, Christmas, we were flying to Boston, then there was some champagne and we celebrated the date.“Someone deduced I was getting engaged! I received more than 100 e-mails from friends commenting about the proposal," she continued. "Now there’s a new rumor, that he proposed to me on last Friday. I wasn’t even there, how can that be true?”
"I’m in love and you will see my wedding on the right day."
- Gisele Bundchen
Bundchen did say that when she and Brady do marry, they will have a small wedding for just family and close friends.

George Bush's Obama Speech Doodles

http://cdn.holytaco.com/www/sites/default/files/images/Bush-Notes.jpg

Apple quietly updates $999 white MacBook with unibody specs


Hmmm, what's this? Did Apple just update its lowly, $999 white plastic polycarbonate MacBook to more closely align with its new unibody MacBooks? Why yes, yes it has... sometime in the last 3 days according to Google's cache. So for the same $999 you now get that newer generation 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor with faster 1,066MHz frontside bus, 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory standard (up from 1GB), and integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics. Whitey is still stuck with DDR2 SDRAM though, not the speedier DDR3 found in the unibodies. Disk drive and other specs (including Firewire 400) appear to be the same. Getting ready for Snow Leopard's OpenCL GPU support are we Apple?

Update: Bluetooth received a bump from 2.0 to 2.1 as well. Anything else?

[Thanks, Uncontrol]

Read -- Old white MacBook
Read -- New white MacBook

Burden lifted for woman told she killed her baby sister 50 years ago - as coroner pins the blame on her mother

By Graham Smith


Cleared: Ann Kramer grew up believing she'd killed her baby sister in 1961 when it was actually their mother who was responsible for the death (file picture)

Cleared: Ann Kramer grew up believing she'd killed her baby sister when it was actually their mother who was responsible for the death (file picture)

An Australian woman who grew up believing she'd killed her baby sister was finally cleared after almost 50 years today when a coroner ruled their mother murdered the infant.

Ann Kramer was just two years old in March 1961 when her mother blamed her for killing her six-month-old sister Margaret Loomes by placing a plastic bag over her head.

A police investigation at the time concluded the baby's death was a tragic accident.

Overturning the original 1961 ruling, coroner John Olle today ruled that it was Ms Kramer's mother Phyllis Loomes who was responsible for the baby's death at the family home in Clayton, Victoria.

Mr Olle said it was likely Mrs Loomes blamed her daughter because she was suffering from postnatal depression.

Mrs Loomes confessed to the killing on a number of occasions in the early 1970s.

Ms Kramer told the hearing that her mother had told her she was unwell when she killed Margaret because her husband Colin Loomes did not want his second child to be another daughter.

'For many years growing up as a child I just felt awful,' Ms Kramer told the hearing. 'I thought I must've been a horrid child to kill my sister.'

She added that despite her mother's confessions, people still thought her responsible for her sister's death: 'They still thought I was a murderer.'

Between 1960 and 1980 Mrs Loomes was regularly admitted to psychiatric hospitals attempted suicide several times.

She had another five children with her husband before they divorced in 1978. In 1980, Mrs Loomes fatally struck him on the head with a heavy object but was found unfit to stand trial for his murder.

She committed suicide in 1983.

Passing his ruling - which came about after Ms Kramer wrote to the coroner asking for the original ruling to be changed - Mr Olle said: 'For almost half a century, she has carried the indescribable burden of having caused the death of her baby sister.

'In fact, she bore no responsibility whatsoever for the death of Margaret.'

A Virus that Rebuilds Damaged Nerves


Viral scaffolding: This fiber is made of billions of viruses and is being studied as a tissue-engineering scaffold. The fiber helps progenitor cells grow into neurons.
Credit: Nano Letters

Viruses that mimic supportive nerve tissue may someday help regenerate injured spinal cords. While other tissue-engineering materials must be synthesized and shaped in the lab, genetically engineered viruses have the advantage of being self-replicating and self-assembling. They can be designed to express cell-friendly proteins on their surfaces and, with a little coaxing, be made into complex tissuelike structures. Preliminary studies show that scaffolds made using a type of virus called a bacteriophage (or phage) that infects bacteria but cannot invade animal cells can support the growth and organization of nerve cells.

Researchers working on tissue engineering hope to eventually be able to use a patient's own cells to grow replacement tissue for damaged hearts, livers, and nerves. But mimicking the structure and function of the body's tissue has proved difficult. Matrices of supportive, fibrous proteins sustain the cells of the heart, lungs, and other tissues in the body. These scaffolds provide both structural support and chemical signals that enable an organ or nerve tissue to function properly.

Some biological engineers are using scaffolds made of polymers to try to mimic the supportive matrix of real tissue. Seung-Wuk Lee, a bioengineer at the University of California, Berkeley, has turned to viruses instead. "Viruses are smart materials," he says. "Once you construct the genome, you can make billions of phages, and they're self-replicating materials." The phage that Lee is working with, called M13, is long and thin like the protein fibers that make up the cellular matrices inside the body.

First, Lee and his colleague Anna Merzlyak genetically engineered M13 to display nerve-friendly proteins on their outer coats. These proteins are known to help nerve cells proliferate, adhere, and extend into long fiberlike shapes. Next, the researchers grew large numbers of the viruses in bacterial-cell hosts and dropped them into a solution containing neural-progenitor cells. These cells are more fully developed than stem cells but are still young and need coaxing to form new tissues. In the solution, the viruses align themselves like a liquid crystal, says Lee. He and Merzlyak used pipettes to inject the solution into agar, a Jell-O-like cell-culture medium, creating long, nerve-like fibers of the virus interspersed with cells. The progenitor cells then multiplied and grew the long branches characteristic of neurons. Lee says that the phage are well suited to making long, fiberlike structures such as nerve tissue but can also be made into more complex structures by varying their concentration or manipulating their position with a magnetic field.

Lee is not the first to use a virus as an engineering material. Other researchers have used the same virus to build battery electrodes. Using the virus in this way was pioneered by Angela Belcher, now a professor of materials science and engineering and of biological engineering at MIT, and was the basis of Lee's graduate work while he was in her lab. Genetically engineered phages have already been approved as an antibacterial food preservative by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for use in lunch meats like bologna, for example. Phages are also under study as a potential treatment for chronic bacterial infections.

MIT Institute Professor Robert Langer says that Lee's work is interesting from a materials perspective, but he cautions that its practicality must be established through in vivo studies.

Lee says that his group plans to establish the safety of phage scaffolds in live animals next. M13 has a good safety record and is not capable of infecting people. Still, the Berkeley researchers will need to investigate how an animal's immune system responds to the viral scaffolds and prove that they encourage nerve regeneration once inside the body. Lee hopes that the viral system will eventually be used to regenerate neurons in patients with spinal-cord injuries.


Gecko Tape that Lets Go

Sticking power: These angled tips, about 40 microns in diameter, provide the same controlled sticking power as a gecko’s toes.
Credit: NanoRobotics Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University

Gecko feet have long been a source of inspiration to scientists striving to make superstrong, reusable adhesives. Now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found a new way to make such an adhesive grip and release as required, using angled microstructures. These structures mimic the tips of the hairs found on gecko toes, which give the lizard its prowess as a climber.

Gecko-like adhesives have already shown promise as a bonding agent for surgical applications. Some researchers believe that the gecko's special ability could also hold the key to creating reliable climbing robots for reconnaissance missions and space exploration.

A gecko's toes have millions of very small hairs packed closely together. At the end of each hair are hundreds of tiny, saucerlike structures, called spatula. Weak forces of attraction, known as van der Waals forces, hold each spatula to the surface of the object that a gecko tries to climb. When the forces from millions of spatula work together, they create a powerful bond that lets a gecko stick to nearly anything--even upside down.

Back in 2006, the team, led by Metin Sitti, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, developed flat, mushroom-shaped tips that mimic the spatula. The tips were able to achieve the same sticking force as a gecko, but there was no easy way to get these tips to release their grip. The team later realized that the key to controlling stickiness lay in changing the angle of the spatula. So Sitti's team took the tips and placed them on top of polymer fibers, angling them at approximately 28 degrees to mimic the angle between a gecko hair and a spatula. As pressure is applied in the direction of the angled fibers, the contact area between each spatula and the object increases, upping the sticking power. Tugging in the opposite direction reduces the contact area and makes the forces of attraction decrease, so that gecko tape, as Sitti calls it, can be released. The group's adhesive was able to hold a one-kilogram weight when pressure was applied in the direction of the angled fibers. A 300-gram weight pulling in the opposite direction was enough to release the tape's grip. The researchers detailed their results in a recent issue of Small.


Controllable stickiness: In the first image, the angled polymer fiber holds a one-kilogram weight in one direction. The second image shows how a 300-gram weight pulling in another direction causes the bonds to break.
Credit: NanoRobotics Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University

The adhesive will "enable more robust and power-efficient climbing robots and capsule robots," says Sitti, who develops both in his lab.

Other researchers have been able to achieve sticking power far greater than a gecko's using carbon nanotubes. While stiffer nanotube fibers can strongly hold on to a wall, they have a harder time hanging from a ceiling, says Sitti, adding that his adhesive was able to hold 500 grams from the ceiling. Another major advantage of the polymer fibers used by Sitti is that "they are easily scalable in manufacturing, and cost effective," he says.

Sitti is now commercializing these angled polymer fibers for use in sporting equipment and skin adhesives through his startup, nanoGriptech.

"The design on the tip is interesting," says Liming Dai, a professor of materials engineering at the University of Dayton, who used carbon nanotubes to achieve a force 10 times stronger than gecko feet. "The one thing with polymers is, you can easily make it in nanofabrications for the tip. Also, it's cheap."

"This is clearly innovative work," says Jeffrey Karp, a bioengineer in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences, who created one-time-use, safe medical gecko tape. "It will be interesting to see if this process can be scaled for industrial applications, or if the adhesives perform better under wet conditions--a major limitation for many of the gecko-mimicking adhesives."

Sitti says that his group plans to coat the mushroom-shaped tips with materials to make them work in water as well. This could be important for medical applications: it could ensure that drug patches, for example, don't slide off when skin gets sweaty, says Sitti.

Other challenges remain. Currently, the tips only stick for a few hours before releasing their grip. Ali Dhinojwala, a professor at the University of Akron who also works on gecko-inspired adhesions, says that ideally, the adhesive will be self-cleaning so that it can be used again and again.

A Genetic Test for Heart Disease and Cancer Risk

DNA diagnosis: Customers who order DecodeMe’s genetic tests receive the kit pictured above. The black wand is scraped against the inside of the cheek to collect cells for DNA analysis.
Credit: Decode Genetics

From car makers to cosmetic surgeons, everyone is scrambling to develop and market more economical products--and the consumer-genetics industry is no exception. DecodeMe, a division of Iceland-based Decode Genetics, launched two new services this week: a test that detects genetic variations associated with different cardiovascular diseases, and a screen that detects genetic variations linked to the risk of developing various cancers. At $195 and $225, respectively, the new tests are cheaper than Decode's genome-wide screen, which for $985 assesses genetic risk for 34 diseases and traits ranging from diabetes to male-pattern baldness. "We wanted to give people an opportunity to buy a test that would only address their needs," says Kari Stefansson, Decode's president and cofounder.

But the same question that has plagued direct-to-consumer genetic testing since its inception remains: the clinical utility of such screens. "We have not sorted out what the best approach is for dealing with prostate-cancer risk in the normal population, much less in those who are at some increased risk," says James Evans, a physician and geneticist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He says that the same is true for other types of cancer.

The first test--deCODEme Cardio--detects eight genetic variations, known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), associated with the risk of heart attack, intracranical and abdominal aortic aneurysm, stroke and atrial fibrillation, peripherial arterial disease, and venous thromboempolism (clots in blood vessels). The second test--deCODEme Cancer--measures 29 SNPs associated with the risk of prostate, lung, bladder, colorectal, and breast cancers, as well as basal cell carcinoma.

The variations detected by the Decode tests clearly do increase risk of these diseases--in most cases, the link has been replicated numerous times. But they each boost risk of disease by a modest amount: typically 20 percent or less. In contrast, mutations in the BRCA1 gene, which physicians often screen for in women with a family history of breast cancer, boost a woman's risk of developing breast cancer to between three and seven times that of someone who lacks the mutation. While the latter can help physicians recommend preventative measures, such as a mastectomy, it's not yet clear how common variations of moderate effect can help shape an individual's plan for prevention or treatment of disease.

"I'm very excited that these kinds of tests will allow us to provide better care for our patients, but we need to do more work to understand exactly what the true benefits will be from this kind of testing," says David Herrington, director of the Translational Science Institute at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, NC. This is true for any new risk-factor tests, he says, not just genetic ones.

In terms of heart disease, physicians often employ risk-prediction models, which use cholesterol, blood pressure, and other measures to predict an individual's risk of developing heart disease over the next decade and to individualize treatments. Patients classified as high risk may be prescribed an aggressive cholesterol-lowering drug regimen or be told to reduce their lipid levels to a lower target than those in a lower risk group. But studies examining whether incorporating a heart-disease-linked variant on chromosome 9 (9p21, which is used in the Decode heart test) into standard prediction models have had mixed results. "It's not yet clear that the 9p21 variants by themselves will provide a sufficiently large increment in knowledge about risk to dramatically change how we categorize people with respect to risk," says Herrington.

The different outcomes for 9p21 may be tied to different populations under study, emphasizing the need to identify who might benefit from such tests. "At the individual level--not the population level--the genomic markers may be quite helpful," says Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, CA. "Even [reclassifying someone] from no risk to moderate risk is an important point for an individual and his or her physician to be aware of." One case in which Topol says that specific genetic testing may be useful is for patients who have had a stroke of unknown cause: they may consider being tested for the genetic variant linked to atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that can increase risk of stroke.

Scientists are now starting to test whether combinations of risk factors may have a larger effect on risk prediction. In the case of breast cancer, several common genetic risk factors have already been identified. The Decode cancer test identifies eight such variants. According to Stefansson, women who carry two copies of all eight have a 50 percent risk of developing breast cancer over their lifetime.

"The National Cancer Institute recommends that women with a 20 percent or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer should have an annual image of the breast," says Stefansson. "This is an indirect way of saying it's important to identify women with a 20 percent or more risk."

But others say that it's not yet clear how to combine knowledge of multiple genetic risk factors. "We don't yet know how to combine such data in an accurate way," says Evans. Accurate estimates are especially important for patients who might choose radical prevention measures, namely mastectomy, he says.

"Such information is not now and may not ever be ready to use in a direct clinical manner, but that does not mean that it isn't incredibly important information," says Evans. "These kinds of data will tell us lots about the origins of cancer, will increase our understanding of the disease, and will surely have long-term beneficial impact on drug design and treatment."

Summer peak, winter low temperatures now arrive 2 days earlier

Not only has the average global temperature increased in the past 50 years, but the hottest day of the year has shifted nearly two days earlier, according to a new study by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University.

July
Map of average distribution of global temperatures for JulyFebuary
Map of average distribution of global temperatures for FebruaryThe average distribution of global temperatures for July and February. Because the sun is further north in July, the warm bulge of high temperatures is shifted into the northern hemisphere in that month. In the Northern Hemisphere, warm temperatures extend farther north on land than over ocean in the summer and cold temperatures extend farther south on land than on the ocean in the winter. (Image by Alexander R. Stine/UC Berkeley; data from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia )

Just as human-generated greenhouse gases appear to the be the cause of global warming, human activity may also be the cause of the shift in the cycle of seasons, according to Alexander R. Stine, a graduate student in UC Berkeley's Department of Earth and Planetary Science and first author of the report.

"We see 100 years where there is a very natural pattern of variability, and then we see a large departure from that pattern at the same time as global mean temperatures start increasing, which makes us suspect that there's a human role here," he said.

Although the cause of this seasonal shift - which has occurred over land, but not the ocean - is unclear, the researchers say the shift appears to be related, in part, to a particular pattern of winds that also has been changing over the same time period. This pattern of atmospheric circulation, known as the Northern Annular Mode, is the most important wind pattern for controlling why one winter in the Northern Hemisphere is different from another. The researchers found that the mode also is important in controlling the arrival of the seasons each year.

Whatever the cause, Stine said, current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models do not predict this phase shift in the annual temperature cycle.

Details are published in the Jan. 22 issue of the journal Nature.

Temperatures at any given time of the year can be very different on land than over the ocean, Stine said, and a change in the strength and direction of the winds can move a lot of heat from the ocean onto land, which may affect the timing of the seasons. However, this seems to be only a partial explanation, he said, because the relationship between this pattern of circulation and the shift in the timing of the seasons is not strong enough to explain the magnitude of the seasonal shift.

The researchers also found that the difference between summer and winter land temperatures has decreased over the same 50-year period, with winter temperatures warming more than those in summer. They found that in non-tropical regions, winter temperatures over land warmed by 1.8 degrees Celsius and summer temperatures increased by 1 degree. Ocean warming has been somewhat less.

Stine noted that the study limited its focus to non-tropical regions because the seasons are more pronounced outside the tropics.

July
images of the Earth's land surface for July 2002February
images of the Earth's land surface for February 2002Composite images of the Earth's land surface for July and Feb 2002 made as part of NASA's Blue Earth project. (NASA images by Reto Stöckli)

Stine, Peter Huybers, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, and Inez Fung, UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science and of environmental science, policy and management, and co-director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, based their study on a publicly available database of global surface temperature measurements over both land and ocean from 1850 to 2007 that was compiled by the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit in the United Kingdom. Using non-tropical data only, the team found that, while land temperatures in the 100-year period between 1850 and 1950 showed a simple pattern of variability, with the hottest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere around July 21, temperatures in the period 1954-2007 peaked 1.7 days earlier.

Stine said that monthly temperatures follow a sinusoidal curve, rising to a peak in mid-summer, then dropping to a winter low, and finally rising again because of increased sunshine to another summer high. The temperature typically lags solar insolation by about 30 days over land and 60 days over the ocean, he said, because it takes less energy to heat the moisture in soil than to heat the ocean.

Biologists have noticed large changes in the arrival time of many signs of spring over the past 50 years. Buds have been seen opening earlier, birds migrating earlier, snow melting earlier and sea ice breaking up earlier. These changes have been explained by the fact that the Earth is warming, and thus the temperature in any given month has increased. In contrast, this new study finds that individual months have been warming at different rates than others, and that as a result, the peak summer temperature and lowest winter temperature both now come earlier in the calendar year.

"We're saying that, on top of the long term trend of warmer summer and winter highs, peak warming is coming earlier within the year," Fung said. "It's not just the onset of spring, but the peak."

The research team is now looking for other mechanisms to explain the observed shift in the timing of the seasons. These include a hypothesized drying of the global soils, which would cause the land surface to respond more quickly to the sun, and changes in the amount of solar energy absorbed by the atmosphere due to industrial pollution.

One surprising aspect of the researchers' findings is that the changes they discuss explain so much about the changes over the last 50 years in the month-to-month pattern of temperatures around the globe.

"Once we have accounted for the fact that the temperature averaged over any given year is increasing, we find that some months have been warming more than other months. We were surprised to find that over land, most of the difference in the warming of one month relative to another is simply the result of this shift in the timing of the seasons, and a decrease in the difference between summer and winter temperatures," said Stine.

"The difference between summer and winter temperatures is comparable to the difference between ice age temperatures and non-ice age temperatures over much of the planet," Stine said. "Thus, small changes in the annual cycle can produce a big effect even if they do not change the annual mean temperature."

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Ravenous Clock Runs Backward, Scares Children

By Lucas Graves Email

Ravenous clock runs backward, scares children.
Photo: James Day

At first glance, it doesn't look like a clock. There's the giant fanged insect on top. And instead of hands, it uses glowing blue LEDs to tell the time. Called the Corpus Clock—it's installed at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, England—the timepiece was designed by John Taylor, an alumnus, clock collector, and lifelong inventor who wanted to blend 18th-century tech with a hypermodern aesthetic. The bug is called a Chronophage, or time-eater, and it's actually a scarier version of the grasshopper escapement, a 1720s breakthrough that transformed clock making. But in this case the pendulum-driven heart is wedded to a silicon brain, which lets the device do surprisingly un-clocklike things—slow down, stop, even run backward. "I wanted a clock that would play with you," Taylor says. How steampunkeriffic.

How It Works

1// Clock face
Five feet across and plated in gold, the face was molded from a single sheet of stainless steel using controlled explosions. The hours, minutes, and seconds are displayed on the three concentric rings. Here it's 2:49:11.

2// Chronophage
Articulated hinges and weights let the Chronophage rock back and forth to regulate the spring-driven escape wheel, causing it to advance once per second.

3// LEDs
Inside the Corpus Clock are 2,736 LEDs arranged into strips that line up with the apertures in the clock face. These LEDs don't blink on and off—instead, three independently rotating steel rings, all driven by the escape wheel, block and unblock the LEDs.

4// Pendulum
By marrying a spring's power to a pendulum's swing, the Corpus Clock runs on a basic innovation first hit on by Galileo. But the clock's digital brain plays with the amplitude of the pendulum's swing, making time appear to stop or even run backward. Then the Chronophage rushes forward to catch up.

10 Random Dance Sequences in Non-Dancing Movies

Great List Found on http://unrealitymag.com

Published by Nattyb

Stiffler

Have you ever watched a comedy or even a drama that clearly doesn’t give off the vibe that a dance scene is about to come on? It’s almost like you say “what the hell is going on here?” Or not even that. Sometimes you’ll be watching a movie and just know that the directors were thinking “let just put in a dance thing here and throw the audience.”

Well I’ve spent the last annoyingly long amount of time trying to find 10 of these scenes. And it doesn’t get much more random than these.

Here are 10 random dance sequences in Non-Dancing movies

Coming to America

This is kind of a funny scene. It falls right in line with the somewhat sexy tone of the movie. But let’s face it, Coming to America is NOT a dance movie and Landis obviously put this in for the hell of it.

40 Year-Old Virgin

Age of Aquarius. I couldn’t find the scene from 40-Year-Old virgin but here’s what they based it on. It was originally in the movie Hair. The scene in 40-Year-Old couldn’t have been any more random if it tried.

Napoleon Dynamite

Probably one of the best “man did this throw me for a loop” moments in the history of dance sequences.

She’s All That

OK what? Where in the hell did this come from? Everyone at a prom dancing in unison? Is that what the kids do these days?

American Wedding

Stifler’s Dance Off. This was pretty awesome.

Superbad Opening Credits

Has zero to do with the movie yet is awesome.

Grind

Again, random as hell but awesome.

Tropic Thunder

He may not have been in the movie long, but Cruises dance became an internet sensation.

King of New York

In the very beginning of the movie Frank White does a little shimmy. It’s enough of a dance move to be on this list.

Road Trip

DJ Qualls! Where the hell is that guy?

APOD: A Lenticular Cloud Over New Zealand


See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

A Lenticular Cloud Over New Zealand
Credit & Copyright: Chris Picking (Starry Night Skies Photography)

Explanation: What's happening above those mountains? Several clouds are stacked up into one striking lenticular cloud. Normally, air moves much more horizontally than it does vertically. Sometimes, however, such as when wind comes off of a mountain or a hill, relatively strong vertical oscillations take place as the air stabilizes. The dry air at the top of an oscillation may be quite stratified in moisture content, and hence forms clouds at each layer where the air saturates with moisture. The result can be a lenticular cloud with a strongly layered appearance. The above picture was taken in 2002 looking southwest over the Tarurua Range mountains from North Island, New Zealand.

Make Your Own 3D Barack Obama Art Cube

By: Dahlia Rideout

Barack Obama paraphernalia is in short supply today, so why not make your own? Print out the graphic below and follow the instructions for your very own cube Barack, courtesy of cubecraft.com.

Click below to download and print:

Good Salary, No Savings?

NEW YORK (Money) -- Question: I make a decent salary, but I can't seem to save any of it. By the time I'm done paying my bills, there are only a few dollars left over. I have no car payments or credit cards, but still can't save. Help!  Mike J., Manalapan, NJ

Answer: Can't save? Back at good old St. Leo's, the grade school I attended in Philadelphia in the 1960s, the nuns who taught us had a quick rejoinder if you said you can't do something. "Can't means won't," they would automatically retort.

And, if you didn't want to feel the crack of a metal ruler across your knuckles, you found a way to do whatever needed to be done.

I'm certainly not advocating corporal punishment as an inducement to save. And I'll admit that there may be instances when people really can't put money aside. If you don't make enough to cover basic expenses like food and shelter, then saving isn't an option. Similarly, if you find yourself out of a job, then you have no income from which to save.

But barring such extremes, most people don't lack the ability to save. It's the will or discipline that's missing. And given that you make a decent salary, you, my friend, fall into that large group of people who can save, but need some help to get started.

So the question is what can you do to get into the habit of regular saving?

Well, one way is to give your spending and expenses a thorough going over with an eye toward looking for areas to cut back. You can do this by revving up any number of budgeting software packages or online programs that allow you to organize your expenses into various categories and track them.

If in doing this you find that that you're spending upwards of $10 a day, or $300 each month, on lattes, $100 every month on music downloads, video games, etc. and $250 a month eating out, right there you've got a $7,800 annual expense you may be able to cut back on significantly to free up some bucks from saving.

If you want to see whether your outlays in specific areas, such as food, shelter and entertainment, are out of whack compared with what your fellow Americans spend, you can check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey. It breaks down the spending of more than 100,000 "consumer units" -- basically households -- into 17 major categories and many more subcategories.

But I think there's a better way. I'm a proponent of what I like to call the Two-Line Budget. On the first line you write in how much you make. On the second, you insert the percentage of salary you would like to save, at least initially. I'd say 10% is a good place to start. You can always change it later. You then save that percentage of your salary from each paycheck and do whatever you have to do to live on the rest

Maybe that means cutting out lattes altogether, or going to Dunkin' Donuts instead of an upscale cafe. Or perhaps it means driving a car that gets fewer admiring glances but more miles to the gallon.

The point, though, is that in this approach, instead of first looking at your spending to see whether you can cut back, you force yourself to live on less by committing to a level of saving. The idea is you can't spend it if it's being saved.

Make it automatic

Whichever route you take, the key is making sure that the money actually gets saved. Good intentions aren't enough. You've got to follow through.

I think the key is setting up a system so that the saving occurs automatically. If putting money away depends on you sitting down each month and writing out a check to your savings account or mutual fund, it may not happen. There will always be some pressing demand preventing you from saving -- an unexpected bill, expenses you didn't foresee, an extravagance you decided to fund "just this once."

But if you can set up a process where the savings goes on in the background so that you're not required to make a conscious choice each time you save, then your chances of success increase immeasurably.

That's what makes the 401(k) such a great savings tool. Once you sign up for your company's plan -- or, increasingly, once your employer signs you up --money is automatically deducted from your paycheck. That's a huge plus (as is the fact that you're investing pre-tax dollars and that your employer is often matching a portion of what you save.)

So if you have a 401(k) or similar plan at work, sign up for it. Now. That's the single most effective step you can take to begin saving.

If you don't have such a program at work, you can create an approximation of it on your own by signing up for a mutual fund firm's automatic investing plan. You simply direct the fund company to transfer a certain amount each month -- say, $100 -- from your checking account to your mutual fund account where your money buys shares of one or more funds. You might feel the pinch of having less money to spend the first few months. But you'll be surprised how quickly you adjust.

Ideally, you'd want to set up your automatic investing plan with an IRA account, assuming you're eligible. If you're not, then just have the money go into a mutual fund or two that you hold in a regular taxable account.

Once you've started saving regularly you can always improve your effort. You can go to a tool like our What You Need To Save calculator to see how much you should be putting away to have a decent shot at retirement. Initially, though, just focus on saving the money. You don't want to make things so complicated that you end up doing nothing.

One final note. It appears that, after years of free spending, Americans may finally be reacquainting themselves with the joys of saving. I'm not talking about a major turnaround. But the latest figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis suggest that we may at least be moving in the right direction.

National figures are another story, though. You should concentrate on what you have some control over: your own spending and savings habits. Do that and I'm sure you'll find a way to save.

But if you persist with this "I can't save" excuse, I just might have to turn your name over to Sister Marie Francis. To top of page

Men say bird vomit saved their lives in 25 days lost at sea: report

Men say bird vomit saved their lives in 25 days lost at sea: report
AFP/Australian Customs/Ho – Two men from Myanmar are seen January 17, floating in a large icebox at sea off the northern coast of …

SYDNEY (AFP) – Two men who spent 25 days lost at sea in a giant icebox survived their extraordinary ordeal thanks to rainwater from tropical storms and fish spat out by passing birds, a report said Wednesday.

The men, who were rescued by helicopter on Saturday, are still being interviewed by Australian immigration officials, who are hoping to clarify how they came to be drifting in shark-infested waters off the country's northern coast.

The pair told The Sydney Morning Herald they drank only rainwater and ate small fish regurgitated by seabirds after their Thai fishing boat broke up, possibly in Indonesian waters, in huge waves on December 23.

"For 10 days, nothing to eat," one of the men told the paper through an interpreter.

"Then two big seabirds came and vomited some small fish -- about six or seven little fish, and that's all."

The pair, who are aged 22 and 24 and thought to be from Myanmar, said that 18 of their crewmates from Thailand and Myanmar were lost when the 10-metre wooden fishing boat went down.

Australian officials, who have said it would be pointless to search for other possible survivors after such a delay, are questioning the men but have said it could take days to ascertain their nationality and immigration status.

Meanwhile, doubts have surfaced about the men's seemingly incredible survival tale after they were released from a Queensland hospital on Tuesday.

Doctor Paul Luckin, a Royal Australian Navy Reserve commander and survival expert, said only a regular supply of fresh water would have kept them alive.

"But for them to be able to capture rainwater in that esky (icebox) would mean the bottom of that esky would have to be fairly clean -- in other words free of saltwater and dead fish," he told national news agency AAP.

"It would be unlikely that they would travel in that esky for that time without a certain quantity of saltwater getting in."

An unnamed source told The Australian that doctors felt the men were in "remarkable condition, given their claimed exposure to the elements for almost a month.

"There is no sunburn, no chafed lips, no discernible signs that the men were out there that long," the source said.

But Peter Heath, general manager at the helicopter rescue company that picked the men up, said they were both dehydrated and at least one was suffering from ulcerations.

"The first one, as soon as the rescue crewman who was on the line got close to him, the bloke jumped at him," he told AFP. "He really wanted to get out of there. And he was in reasonable condition."

But he said the second man was wearing a lifejacket and floating in the water tied to the icebox -- which was roughly a metre high, a metre wide and two metres long -- when the helicopter arrived.

"He was a bit worse. He needed to be picked up fairly carefully. And he needed to have first aid once he was in the aircraft to stop him going into shock," Heath said.

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