Black Sheep

FROM their folded mates they wander far,
Their ways seem harsh and wild:
They follow the beck of a baleful star,
Their paths are dream-beguiled.

Yet haply they sought but a wider range,
Some loftier mountain slope,
And little recked of the country strange
Beyond the gates of hope.

And haply a bell with a luring call
Summoned their feet to tread
Midst the cruel rocks, where the deep pitfall
And the lurking snare are spread.

Maybe, in spite of their tameless days
Of outcast liberty,
They ’re sick at heart for the homely ways
Where their gathered brothers be.

And oft at night, when the plains fall dark
And the hills loom large and dim,
For the shepherd’s voice they mutely hark,
And their souls go out to him.

Meanwhile, “Black sheep! black sheep!” we cry,
Safe in the inner fold;
And maybe they hear, and wonder why,
And marvel, out in the cold.

Richard Francis Burton

New York as you’ve never seen it before: Remote-controlled plane takes amazing aerial video of the city

Mercury serves up a nuclear surprise

The discovery of a new type of fission turns a tenet of nuclear theory on its head.

Nature – By Eugenie Samuel Reich

The observation of an unexpected nuclear reaction by an unstable isotope of the element mercury has thrown up a rare puzzle. The enigma is helping theorists to tackle one of the trickiest problems in physics: developing a more complete model of the atomic nucleus.

Nuclear fission, the process in which a nucleus heavier than that of iron breaks into pieces, is generally observed to be symmetric, with the resulting fragments being roughly equal in size. Although instances of asymmetric fission are known, they are usually attributed to the preferential formation of ‘magic’ nuclei, in which shells in the nuclear structure are filled to capacity.

So when researchers on the ISOLDE experiment at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, set out to study the decay of mercury-180 — containing 80 protons and 100 neutrons — they expected it to break into two nuclei of zirconium-90, each containing 40 protons and 50 neutrons. They assumed that outcome would be particularly favoured because 40 and 50 are magic numbers for which shells would be exactly filled.

But the mercury dealt a surprise, splitting instead into ruthenium-100 and krypton-80. “A symmetric split should be dominant and we show that it doesn’t happen,” says ISOLDE member Andrei Andreyev, presently of the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley. The result is in press at Physical Review Letters…

Nuclear theorist Witold Nazarewicz of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville says that the study demonstrates the extent to which, more than 70 years after the discovery of nuclear fission, we are still learning about the process. “This is very important information for any model of the nucleus,” he says.

Nazarewicz says that although engineers’ practical knowledge of fission has progressed far enough for us to build nuclear bombs and reactors, “I don’t think we have a firm understanding of fission rooted in the interactions of the proton and neutron building blocks.” The nuclei that form in a typical reactor core are generally understood, but models are not at the point at which they can be extrapolated to more exotic and unstable isotopes, he says. A better fundamental understanding of the theory may help the design of future generations of reactors…

NHTSA 17-10
Friday, December 3, 2010
Contact: Karen Aldana
Tel: 202-366-9550

Regulation Is Aimed at Preventing Accidental Fatalities and Injuries to Pedestrians in Low-Speed Back-Up Accidents

The U.S. Department of Transportation today proposed a new safety regulation to help eliminate blind zones behind vehicles that can hide the presence of pedestrians, especially young children and the elderly. The proposed rule was required by Congress as part of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007. Two-year old Cameron Gulbransen, for whom the Act is named, was killed when his father accidentally backed over him in the family’s driveway.

“There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The changes we are proposing today will help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up.”

The proposal, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), would expand the required field of view for all passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans, buses and low-speed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 10,000 pounds so that drivers can see directly behind the vehicle when the vehicle’s transmission is in reverse. NHTSA believes automobile manufacturers will install rear mounted video cameras and in-vehicle displays to meet the proposed standards. To meet the requirements of the proposed rule, ten percent of new vehicles must comply by Sept. 2012, 40 percent by Sept. 2013 and 100 percent by Sept. 2014.

“The steps we are taking today will help reduce back-over fatalities and injuries not only to children, but to the elderly, and other pedestrians,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “And while these changes will make a difference, drivers must remember that no technology can, or should, replace full attention and vigilance when backing up. Always know where your children are before you start your car and make sure you check that there is no one behind you before you back up.”

NHTSA estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes involving all vehicles. Of these, 228 fatalities involve light vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less. Two particularly vulnerable populations – children and the elderly -– are affected most. Approximately 44 percent of fatalities involving light vehicles are children under five–an unusually high percentage for any particular type of crash. In addition, 33 percent of fatalities involving light vehicles are elderly people 70 years of age or older.

NHTSA is providing a 60-day comment period on this rulemaking that begins when the proposal is published in the Federal Register. The proposal and information about how to submit comments is here.

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Dear LB,

Hillary – as always – said it best.

“You never gave in. You never gave up. And together, we made history.

Do you remember Hillary’s speech at the Democratic National Convention? It was an historic moment, one that made all of us proud. If you missed the first opportunity to buy a DVD of her speech, you are in luck. We have a few of our special edition 2008 National Democratic Convention DVDs left, and we want to share them with you.

If you contribute $50 or more today to help retire the last bit of Hillary’s campaign debt, we will send you a DVD with Hillary’s historic speech at the 2008 Denver convention, and the inspiring video that introduced her. That’s not all – it also includes President Clinton’s speech and a special message that Hillary recorded just for you. And, for those of you who want something extra special, you can contribute $250 or more and receive one of our special “signature” DVDs hand-signed by Hillary. We only have 50 “signature” DVDs remaining, so act fast if you’d like one for yourself or for a holiday gift!

Contribute today to receive your commemorative DVD.

In her speech, Hillary said, “You allowed me to become part of your lives. And you became part of mine.” As we all know, campaigns are tough, but having loyal supporters like you helped make Hillary’s campaign one that will never be forgotten. By making a contribution today, you will have your own personal memento of the “determination to keep going, often in the face of enormous obstacles.”

Contribute $50 or more today, you’ll receive a DVD copy of Hillary’s and President Clinton’s convention speeches – a unique piece of history.

Hillary would not be where she is today without your constant support, dedication, and friendship over the years. Because of you, we are so close to retiring her campaign debt once and for all — and we will always be proud that we made history together!

Thank you again.


Hillary Clinton for President

end – 😉