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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Physics versus Philosophy - game over?

It's time to take stock of things and get a feel for the waters, folks! Thus the following poll. I hope you'll take the 10 seconds required to put your two cents in. And, don't be afraid to leave a comment either!
Has physics, in the form of relativity, quantum mechanics, and M-Theory (Superstring theory), made philosophy obsolete and/or useless?


Free Web Survey

Thanks!
--Gary D. Timothy-- (a.k.a., The Eclectic)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ahh,... to fly like a bird! Well, it can and has been done with the Snowbird!

Humans have dreamed of flying like birds under their own power ever since time began. Paul MacCready accomplished this feat in 1977 when he flew the Gossamer Albatross over the English Channel. It was quite true that he flew under his own power, but the wings of his craft were fixed and unmoving, except for directional controls. Still, this was an awesome achievement and MacReady was named by some to be the Engineer Of The Century.

But now there is Snowbird, a craft that is also completely human powered once it's in the air. And Snowbird, as what's known as an ornithopter, actually flaps its wings to sustain flight. True, it does need a pull from a car to get airborne, but once it's up,... well just watch the extraordinary video below!

On July 31st and August 2nd, 2010 the Snowbird maintained altitude and airspeed for 19.3 seconds - the world's firstself-powered flapping wing flight!


Ahhh,... to fly like a bird!
http://media-files.gather.com/images/d28/d540/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg
For more information: Check out the Human Powered Ornithopter Project website.
To watch this video on YouTube: World's First Human-Powered Ornithopter
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My other places: Eclectic Universe Home Page - Eclectic Universe Forum - Eclectic's Universe Blog - Thinking With Reason
You can also JOIN ME on SideTick, RedGage, MyLot, and MyAllFriends - 4 other places to earn cash just for being social!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stand Up For Science - Evolution is REAL Science!

I ran across the two videos below on YouTube. If you're teetering on the edge of believing or not believing evolution theory, these videos might just inspire you. If you're sure that evolution is bunkum, then you too might want to check out the videos. And if you're already sure that evolution is the way to go, then these videos might just answer some questions for you anyway!

First up: Does the fossil record support Evolution?

Next up: Where are the Transitional Forms?



As I have asserted before on Gather.com and other sites, and as this video explains, nearly every species can be considered a transitional form. That is, all species stand somewhere between a former species and a later species on the evolutionary tree of life!

For those of you who do not accept the theory of Evolution, ignorance may be bliss, but I'm here to tell you that a little science knowledge can work even greater wonders!

For more videos and information: Stand up for REAL science

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My other places: Eclectic Universe Home Page - Eclectic Universe Forum - Eclectic's Universe Blog - Thinking With Reason
You can also JOIN ME on SideTick, RedGage, and MyLot - three other places to earn cash just for being social!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Milky Way Big Picture (Showcase) - NASA Spitzer Space Telescope

The Milky Way Big Picture (Showcase) - NASA Spitzer Space Telescope

This is a video of the Spitzer Space Telescope's mission to capture over half of our Milky Way Galaxy, gloriously illustrated with wondrous visions, and explained beautifully by an astronomer.

It really is a Must See video!!


I do hope you enjoyed it!
--Gary D. Timothy--

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Finally Found Uranus and YOU can too!


Now, this is a special event for me because I’ve never positively identified it before in the night sky. There have been times when I thought I was looking at Uranus, but I’ve never before been sure of it. At its brightest, it is sometimes barely visible to the naked eye in very dark skies with no light pollution, but it usually requires a good star chart to find.

Uranus is the seventh planet out from the Sun, beyond Saturn and smaller than Saturn too, so it’s no wonder that it’s much more difficult to see. Below is an image captured by the Voyager 2 spacecraft during it’s flyby of the planet in 1986.



Above: Voyager 2’s view of Uranus. As you can see, Uranus is quite featureless – it’s one of the gas giants, so you are basically looking at its opaque atmosphere although it is thought to have a rocky core. Both Voyager 1 and 2 are still functioning and sending data back to Earth after over 33 years! They are both currently leaving the Solar System and are, respectively about 17 and 14 billion kilometers from the Sun.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Science Vine - Issue 3: Petrified Lightning, Suing Science, & Shuttle Wake-up Songs

Science Vine – Issue 3 - August 31, 2010

Petrified Lightning

I’m sure most of you have heard of petrified wood, and maybe even seen some yourself either in pictures or at a museum. But how about petrified lightning or fulgurites? It’s possible that at some of you who have never heard of petrified lightning or fulgurites have actually seen them without realizing it!

When lightning strikes the Earth in some sandy or silica-rich soil, it can literally melt the ground and leave it’s mark as fulgurites: hollow, glassy tubes that represent the path the lightning took. They are often root-like in structure, with evident branching, which seems consistent with the branching lightning seen in the sky. And they can range in size from very small to several centimeters wide and several meters long.

You might be petrified of lightning, but there’s nothing to fear from fulgurites. And if you find one, especially a big one, you could be in for some serious money from collectors and/or museums. But even though lightning strikes the Earth 100 times every second on average according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, fulgurites are very rare. So, while you might have seen one without know what it was, you probably won’t find one even if you know what you’re looking for. Isn’t that the way it always works?

For more information:
Wikipedia: Fulgurite
FactOidz:
Fulgurites: Petrified Lightning in the Ground (Warning! Fascination content is HIGH! And, there’s pictures here too!)
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Man seeks to sue science.

Man logically loses litigation attempt.

According to a Discover Magazine blog:

Back in 2008, a Hawaiian fellow named Walter Wagner claimed the Large Hadron Collider’s hunt for the Higgs boson would end in apocalypse, and sued to stop the collider from going online. His suit was soon dismissed by a federal judge, but with the fate of the world on the line, Wagner kept trying.




A simulated event at the CMS particle detector of the LHC of the european particle physics institute, CERN. This simulation depicts the decay of a Higgs particle following a collision of two protons in the CMS experiment. [Image credit: CERN. From Wikipedia user Harp.]


But, to make a long story short, an appellate judge for the United States District Court in Hawaii has ruled that Wagner failed to show “credible threat of harm.” You see, the United States doesn’t control the collider, which spans the border of Switzerland and France. The LHC was indeed built with some U.S. government financial support, but the U.S. only has observer status on the operations governing body: the CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) council.


So, it appears that the U.S. can’t be held accountable if the LHC somehow destroys the Earth by creating an Earth-eating black hole or similarly apocalyptic strange matter!

For those of you who have a sense of humor, check out the LHCDefense.org site I’ve listed below. It’s a serious site, but intelligent beings that know a lick of science won’t be taking it seriously!

For more information:
Discover Magazine:
Judge: Man Can’t Sue over LHC’s “Potential Destruction Of The Earth”
LHCDefense.org:
THE OFFICAL SITE FOR CITIZENS AGAINST THE LARGE HADRON COLLIDER

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http://media-files.gather.com/images/d71/d510/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg



Did you ever wonder what astronauts wake up to when they’re orbiting about 200 miles (325 kilometers) high above the Earth in the Space Shuttle? Why, Space Rock music, of course!


And who gets to choose the particular songs they hear? Why, Houston, of course! EXCEPT that now NASA has just opened voting booths to the public. That’s right, now YOU can vote on what music our shuttle astronauts get to wake up during the STS-133 mission, which is currently set to launch in November of this year.


So, to have your own voice in the musical voices that shuttle astronauts will hear, check out NASA’s Top 40 and pick out a song! They’ve listed 40 songs, all of which you can listen to, that have been played on previous missions, and the songs range from Beautiful Day by U2 to Rocket Man by Elton John to What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. The theme from Star Trek by Alexander Courage is currently leading in the polls, followed closely by Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf. Over 1.2 million votes have been cast so far, so get yours in now!


And on that note (pun intended, of course), so ends this issue of Science Vine.

© 2010 Gary D. Timothy
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My other places: Eclectic Universe Home Page - Eclectic Universe Forum - Eclectic's Universe Blog - Thinking With Reason
You can also JOIN ME on SideTick, RedGage, and MyLot - three other places to earn cash just for being social!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Science Vine - Issue 2: Google Mars, SpaceQuakes, and a Tachyon Joke

Science Vine- Issue 2, July 27, 2010

And the bartender says “Sorry, we don’t serve tachyons here.”
A tachyon walks into a bar…
Now, just in case you’re relatively physics challenged, click here for help with seeing the light. Or you can just left click and drag your mouse pointer over the seemingly empty space below for a clue.
A tachyon is a theoretical particle that travels faster than light, and as such, it would travel backward in time. This means that a tachyon would arrive before it left! Thus the reverse nature of the joke above.
For masochist individuals who wish to torture their own gray matter into temporal shreds of technicalities, please see (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachyon) for a good time before you get there.
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NASA and Microsoft Research are adding new features in the WorldWide Telescope software that provide viewers with high-resolution 3-D maps of the Red Planet. This online virtual telescope allows you to explore the universe using images that NASA spacecraft have taken.
I recently checked it out for myself. Below is a screenshot from my computer featuring the Happy Face on Mars. Conspiracy theorists, please note that the crosshairs in the images are not alien formations on Mars, but rather alien formations on my computer screen!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eclectic's Universe Wordle

Check out this wordle that I created using the text from this blog. It's my first one, so don't be too critical, okay? Ha!
Wordle: Eclectic Universe

Yeah, I know, it's awful blurry, but you'll get a bigger, better, crisper view if you click on it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Join me at MyLot

Here's a new place to find me and my stuff - Just click the link below:
myLot User Profile

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Science Vine – Premier Issue: Surfing the Science Side

This will hopefully be the first of many Science Vine posts by me, your friendly eclectic science guy. Now, since this is the first post of this series, I hereby justify the title of this article as “premier.” It could also be considered premier as in “first in importance” or “outstanding quality” but that would depend on your point of view and I graciously grant that it might be debatable if you are not me. But I won’t go there, even if I already have! (Oh the ego of this eccentric eclectic!)
But enough of the alliterated nonsense – let’s just get right to it, shall we?
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http://media-files.gather.com/images/d25/d446/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg
The Science Vine for July 12, 2010 (Issue 1): Surfing the Science Side of the Internet today, I found the following little grape seeds that could blossom into full blown grapes from the Science Vine should you actually choose to read more about ‘em from the links I’ve so magnanimously provided.

The Moon continues to NOT be implicated in the rise of bad behavior during full moons. Yet another study has found no correlation between full moons and crimes. See the USA Today article Full moon eclipsed as accessory to crime (By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY )for more info. Yet soooo many folks, cops and bartenders included, continue to believe that all the lunatics come out to play on nights with a full moon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Practical Astronomy Magazine - Free Download eZine


Practical Astronomy Magazine - Free Download eZine



For anyone with the slightest interest in the night sky and/or astronomy! Become a member and subscribe for free and get access to back issues and other cool stuff on this site! But it's a time-limited offer folks, so get there now or be square!

Also, if you have a mind to, and can actually write worth a whit, they you can also write and submit your own articles for consideration. Wouldn't it be cool to be published in this magazine? I'm going to have to try this out myself!

From Practical Astronomy's about page:

About Practical Astronomy Magazine

Practical Astronomy magazine was founded in 2009 and has always been distributed for free, using digital download from the internet.

Its primary driver is to encourage amateur astronomers worldwide, to share their observations and astronomical experience. So far, contributors from at least ten countries have been published in the magazine.

Contact (and send images/articles for publication) to Kevin Brown: editor@practicalastronomy.com

The magazine is published by Structure Ltd (a UK registered company) in pdf format, making it readable and printable by most computers in the World.

It’s been assigned the International Standard Serial Number ISSN 2042-2687, by the British Library.

Here’s a message from the editor..

The title “Practical Astronomy” just about sums-up my personal Astronomy ethos. So I thought, I really should help create this regular, downloadable magazine.

Magazine Editor, Kevin Brown

Magazine Editor, Kevin Brown

The objective (!) is to share practical astronomy techniques and news…

And also, encourage you to get outside and do some observing!

Thank You,

kevin brown signature (doing my best, here)

Kevin Brown FRAS

Saturday, June 19, 2010

PlanetQuest - the number of Exoplanets Found is about to skyrocket!

PlanetQuest: Exoplanet Exploration

NASA's JPL/CalTech website reports the current exoplanet count at 453 as of June 19, 2010. The number of stars with planets is a bit lower and stands at 385, meaning that some stars have more than one planet orbiting them.

The image below is a screen shot (from this author's screen) of a widget for your desktop and can be downloaded from the PlanetQuest Planet Counter page. It will keep you current on the hunt for exoplanets, but you'll have to have Yahoo! Widgets installed to make it work.

As soon as the recent first data set from the Kepler mission, which is devoted to finding exoplanets (particularly, Earth-like planets), is fully analyzed, the count of exoplanets is sure to skyrocket. But right now, the data set, just released to the public, reports 306 exoplanet "candidates." That means those candidate explanets must still be confirmed before adding them to the official exoplanet count.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Scientists explore whether some apes shake heads for "no"

Scientists explore whether some apes shake heads for "no":

May 5, 2010
Special to World Science

In communicating with each other, apes known as bonobos sometimes shake their heads—and one of the purposes for which they do this may be analogous to saying “no,” a study has found.

Researchers say the finding could be significant because bonobos are also humans’ closest evolutionary relatives, along with common chimpanzees."

[Yes, there's more! Click the link above to read the rest of the original article at the World Science website. --gdt]

This is one of those articles that may have you shaking your own head as you contemplate the possible universality of the head shake for "no!" in not only all humans but other species!

But I think one has to be careful of the assumptions that are easy to make here. For example, is the head shake for "no" really universal in humanity around the world? Or just in civilized peoples? I'm not really sure if the primitive tribes still extant in places like the Amazon jungle, the jungles of the Congo, or the remote Australian Outback all actually do generally shake their heads "no" in the same fashion that you and I do.

In any case, perhaps this recent research is at least food for thought? I hope!

--The Eclectic, a.k.a. Gary D. Timothy

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ya talk about high tech innovation - The future is here!

If you want to get a glimpse into the future, and even of the here-and-now, you just HAVE to check out the TED talk by Patty Maes about the ultimate interactive environment in the real world. But you don't have to wait - the working demo is working now.

Some on you may remember the commercial about letting your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages. Well, with this technology, your fingers are going to do a LOT more than just walking!

Making The-Sixth-Sense a reality, this video is a must-see for anybody even slightly interested in technology. It's amazing! And, there are a few laughs to boot!


You can also find this video and many more fantastic talks at:
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/pattie_maes_demos_the_sixth_sense.html

Hawking Radiation, and how something comes from nothing all the time!

You too can begin to understand Black Holes, Hawking Radiation, Virtual Particles, and the strange quantum world of how "something" comes "nothing" all the time, everywhere!

Here's my story. And I'm sticking with it!  :-)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Space Shuttle Discovery Lift Off - April 5, 2010

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off successfully on April 5 2010 for mission STS-131, one of the last missions before the program is retired. The photo below is an amazing shot of that lift off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA!

Just take a gander at this beauty and see if you don't agree with me.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

RedGage - a new kid on my block!

I've recently found a new site to publish my work to: RedGage. As far as I know, RedGage started up just last year, but I've only signed up for it about a week ago.

Now, I'm not abandoning my blog here, but I will be posting to RedGage as well, so not to worry!

In any case, I just wanted to get the word out there just in case any readers might be interested. Signing up for RedGage is FREE and you actually get paid to write articles and post your photos and videos there! Once you've earned $25, you'll get a RedGage Visa debit card and further earnings will be added to that card automatically. The great advantage to this site is that you get to spend the money on your RedGage Visa card anyway you like anywhere that Visa is accepted.

You can find me there as TheEclectic. :-)


Here's what RedGage has to say for itself on their site:


What is RedGage?

RedGage is a first-of-its-kind web site that pays people for their online content and monetizes their social activity. It's centralized hub where you can earn money for all the things you're already doing online at places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Blogger. RedGage pays based on the value of your content, measured by page views/popularity. It aggregates from other sites so you don't even have to regularly visit RedGage.

RedGage has redefined socializing and creating projects on the web by paying you for all of your blogs, pictures, videos, documents, and links. You will not only be able to create a stronger web identity, but will also have the opportunity to host, navigate, and review a wide variety of projects.

Why is RedGage Unique?

At RedGage, we realize that it's you, the user, who makes our site worthwhile by creating and sharing all of your great content. For the first time, by using RedGage, you are able to manage all of your online videos, blogs, posts, documents, links and photos in a single location, AND have the opportunity to get paid for your content. If you manage several social media accounts, RedGage provides a one-stop destination that will automatically import your new content, so no manual work is required to earn money. By using RedGage, you can make money for what you are already doing online.

We understand that the internet has become a major part of modern life only because of people like you. And we feel that you should be rewarded. So why should you keep on using multiple sites to manage your content when you can put it all in one place, and make money while doing it? Just create an account and start uploading your content. It's absolutely free. And the sooner you start, the more you stand to gain.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sean Carroll on the arrow of time (Part 1) | Video on TED.com

Sean Carroll on the arrow of time (Part 1) | Video on TED.com

A fascinating and easy to understand video explaining the arrow of time as it is ultimately linked to entropy.

From the TED Talks site of this video:

In Part 1 of his lecture at the University of Sydney, cosmologist Sean Carroll gives an entertaining and thought-provoking talk about the nature of time, the origin of entropy, and how what happened before the Big Bang might be responsible for the arrow of time we observe today. (Don't miss Part 2 of this talk!)

About Sean Carroll

A physicist, cosmologist and gifted science communicator, Sean Carroll is asking himself -- and asking us to consider -- questions that get at the fundamental nature of the universe. Full bio and more links

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

News from the Amazing World of Nature! - Crickets "warn" unborn babies about spiders!

In my email today, I ran across a fascinating article about a wonder of biology.

From: ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2010) — Just because cricket moms abandon their eggs before they hatch doesn't mean they don't pass wisdom along to their babies. New research in the American Naturalist shows that crickets can warn their unborn babies about potential predator threats.

What? How is that possible? Human females have been known to claim they can affect their fetuses by talking to them, but exactly HOW does a cricket warn their unborn offspring about anything at all??

And the answer is: Nobody knows for sure! But scientists have a guess. But before I get to that guess, here's the background story:

Some researchers at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg and Indiana State University did an experiment with pregnant crickets.

In one enclosure, they put some pregnant crickets in with a wolf spider. And, if you think You're afraid of wolf spiders, imagine the stress of those poor mamma crickets!

Wolf spiders are venomous and can cause a very nasty, painful wound on people. Thankfully, most people only suffer pain, itching and swelling for from a few minutes to a few days.

However, the wolf spiders in the experiments were only able to stalk the crickets, not kill them. The researchers somehow covered their fangs with wax, which somehow made the spiders safe. Now, I don't know the particulars about the wax job - my sources didn't elaborate.

Anyway, in a second enclosure, some more pregnant crickets were kept without a wolf spider to harass them. This is known as the Control Group.

Okay, so now, after the crickets laid their eggs, the researchers then compared the behavior of those offspring of crickets that were terrorized by a wolf spider to those offspring whose mothers hadn't been exposed to spiders. And, Guess What?

When placed into a terrarium with a hungry wolf spider, the crickets born of spider-exposed mothers were more likely to seek shelter and stay there. They stayed hidden over 100 percent longer -- and lived to tell the story more often -- than offspring from mothers that hadn't been exposed to spiders.

From Science Daily: Another experiment showed that the "forewarned" crickets were more likely to freeze when they encountered spider silk or feces -- a behavior that could prevent them from being detected by a nearby spider.

The results suggest that "the transfer of information from mother to offspring about predation risk, in the absence of any parental care, may be more common than one might think," Storm said.

Now, all this, apparently, doesn't just apply to crickets in the lab. The researchers also found that wild baby crickets in areas with lots of spiders tended to be more cautious in the presence of spider signs like spider webs. And of course, when those crickets were collected and put through the same paces as the lab-reared crickets, they tended to stay alive longer than baby crickets that were reared in safer wild environments.

The researchers also said their findings suggest a transfer of information from mother to offspring about predation risk might be more common than thought.

Now for the guess of how this might happen that I mentioned earlier: The researchers say that it is possible that stressful events like predator attacks trigger the release of a hormone that influences the development of the embryo.

And that's pretty much all she wrote folks! As far as the facts in this article go anyway. But I'm thinking the story won't really end there - I have a feeling that scientists are curious critters, and that they won't let this go by any means. They'll keep poking and prodding and mucking about with crickets and spiders and maybe some other creatures, until they get to the bottom of it. At least I hope they do! Because I'm still curious and I want to know more.

Parting thought: Could these findings apply to humans? If hormones, or whatever, actually Can have such far-reaching effects on behavior after birth, are we prisoners to our biology? Or are we the beneficiaries of biology? Can we truly give our children advantages before they are even born? Can we avoid instilling negative behaviors in our fetuses? And, just How might we do that?

Sign me Wondering!

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MLA Source Citation: University of Chicago Press Journals. "Crickets 'Forewarn' Unborn Babies About Spiders." ScienceDaily 24 February 2010. 1 March 2010 .

Monday, March 1, 2010

Crickets 'forewarn' unborn babies about spiders

Crickets 'forewarn' unborn babies about spiders

ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2010) — Just because cricket moms abandon their eggs before they hatch doesn't mean they don't pass wisdom along to their babies. New research in the American Naturalist shows that crickets can warn their unborn babies about potential predator threats.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Battling a stick figure virus - too funny not to post!

I found this video at FunniestStuff.net. Take a peek and see if you don't laugh out loud!




May your universe always be Eclectic!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NASA Image of the the Day - Gallery


Image of the the Day - Gallery

Little Galaxy With a Tail

This infrared (see spectrum diagram below) portrait of the Small Magellanic Cloud, taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, reveals stars and dust in this galaxy as never seen before.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SNOWFLAKES - Everything you EVER wanted to know about them!

Winter. The word has been known, believe it or not, to conjure up visions of snow. Yes, you know what I'm talking about: that cold white stuff that tends to fall out of the skies in some parts of the world lucky enough to actually experience Winter?

Now, I know that all you folks down in places like sunny Florida have no idea what I'm talking about. But listen up anyway! You might just learn a thing or three. At the very least, you could just be polite and humor your currently shivering Eclectic Science guy. Please?

Anyway, Winter sometimes means snow, but snow always means snowflakes! How about that!? Pretty cool so far, eh?

No? Well, humor me (or perhaps suffer me would be a better phrase), a bit longer because I'm about to astound, amaze, and educate the living snot out of you! (Um,... that is if you haven't already been impressed by the pics herein contained)

Snowflakes, REAL snowflakes are ALWAYS hexagonal. That's six (6) sided for those of you who have no idea what a hexagon is. And, NO the Pentagon is five (5) sided, you dummies. Are you astounded yet?  Heh, I thought so!

A Frozen Britain from way above! and It's sooooo cold that...

Yep, it's cold outside, baby! Take a gander at the deep freeze holding Britain hostage in the photo below! Now, I'm thinking that there are parts of the U.S. that are a tad chilly also, but I wasn't able to hack into NASA's Terra satellite to get a photo of it yet.

This striking image taken by Nasa's Terra satellite on 7 January 2010 shows the UK deep in the clutches of the current cold snap. [Photo: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response]



And, speaking of cooooold,... I've scoured the Internet for the best, and only the best, humor regarding the currently less-than-warm-fuzzy temps we've all been chatting and chattering and shivering about. And with all that chatter, the Department of Homeland Frigidity has finally set the Chilly Warning to White!