As 'normal' as it gets
GENEVA — U.N. scientists say they expect a "normal" ozone hole this year.
Geir Braathen of the World Meteorological Organization told journalists in Geneva on Friday that it will likely be smaller than the very large hole of 2006 but more pronounced than last year's relatively small hole.
The hole has been forming since the mid 1980s in the extremely low temperatures that mark the end of Antarctic winter. Generally, the hole is biggest around late September.
The hole is caused by thinning in the ozone layer largely due to chemical compounds leaked from refrigerators, air conditioners and other devices. It exposes the Earth to harmful solar rays.
Flies get a jump on life
Ever wonder why it is so hard to swat flies?
It's because they don't just fly away — they first jump in a direction that takes them away from the swatter, said California Institute of Technology bioengineer Michael Dickinson.
Dickinson and graduate student Gwyneth Card took high-speed digital movies of fruit flies as a black disk dropped toward them.
They reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology that, about 200 milliseconds before impact, the fly's tiny brain calculates the location of the threat, then maneuvers its legs into the optimum position to jump out of the way.
If the threat is coming from the front, the fly moves its middle legs forward and leans back, then jumps backward. If the threat is from the back, it moves its middle legs backward and jumps forward. If the threat is coming from the side, it leans its body to the other side and jumps.
Dickinson said fly swatters should lead the fly like a trap shooter, anticipating the jump.
Or was it a Phelps protest?
If you thought you could forget the Olympics and all the trouble that comes with it for a while, think again. Three people, two 19-year-old men and a 20-year-old woman, were arrested in Vancouver on Wednesday after the countdown clock for the 2010 Winter Olympics was vandalized. Police had received a call that the 20-foot-tall clock, a donation from Omega (the Games' official timekeeper) had been doused with white paint. Charges are pending, but no signs of a link to organized protest were apparent. It was at least the fifth time the clock has been vandalized.
Toronto Globe and Mail
Who is the iPhone Girl?
The newest Internet sensation is — iPhone Girl! A British customer turned on his new 3G to find images of a young Chinese factory worker flashing the "Victory" (or perhaps "Peace") sign and posted them on MacRumors.com, where comments ranged from concerned (Is this a glimpse of child labor abuses at Chinese factories?) to the indifferent to the creepy ("She won my heart for 2 reasons: Cute Chinese girl, and the fact that she makes iPhones. That's just hot."). Internet sleuths took no time at all to track her to a factory owned by Foxconn, which said the photos were a "beautiful mistake" and the girl "is definitely not fired." The Internet being what it is, Web sites, Facebook pages and MySpace pages sprouted up. Meanwhile, the girl, apparently a migrant worker from Hunan province, is overwhelmed by all the attention and wants to quit her job and go home, the Washington Post reported.
At least 17 Smithsonian Institution executives with six-figure salaries will see future pay cuts — many in the tens of thousands of dollars — under reforms adopted by the museum complex. The cuts are to be made gradually over five years.
salary of former Secretary Lawrence Small when nonprofit watchdogs and members of Congress began asking questions about the Smithsonian's salaries. He resigned in March 2007. $524,000
salary of current Secretary Wayne Clough, who would be exempt from the cuts.
salary of President Bush. $120,000 potential pay cut for chief financial officer Alice Maroni, the biggest.
$293,280 Maroni's current salary, meaning the cut would be 41 percent.
$158,000 federal government salary cap for similar positions.
the Smithsonian's annual budget, 70 percent of which comes from Congress, though the highest salaries for top officials and museum directors are paid out of private trust funds.
To avoid space junk, station falls a little
The international space station's orbit has been adjusted to avoid a cluster of space garbage, Russia's Mission Control Center said on Thursday.
"Information on a possible collision was received from Russian and American services ... and was used by the MCC specialists to perform calculations for an ISS orbit adjustment," mission control said.
The space station's orbit was lowered by 1 mile to 220 miles above the Earth.
Mixed news on drunken driving
Drunken driving deaths fell in 32 states in 2007, but the number of alcohol-related fatalities among motorcycle riders climbed in half the states. The number of people killed in crashes in which the driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher was 12,998, which was 491 fewer than 2006. But 1,621 of those were motorcyclists killed in alcohol-related incidents, up from 1,508. A study released two weeks ago found similar trends in traffic deaths in general. The alcohol-related trends followed in Florida, with 36 fewer deaths overall, but eight more motorcycle deaths.
But news bad for native Americans
A report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 11.7 percent of deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives from 2001 to 2005 were alcohol-related, compared with 3.3 percent for the United States as a whole. The study said more than 68 percent of the Indians whose deaths were attributed to alcohol were men, and 66 percent were people younger than 50 years old. Seven percent were less than 20 years old. The report did not break down the numbers by tribe.
The Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, said Friday it has restored 52 photographs and images the Jewish teenager pasted on the wall of the room where she was hiding from the Nazis from July 1942 until August 1944. The water-stained collage of celebrities of the day, such as Greta Garbo, offers another view into the mind of the girl best known for her posthumously published diary.
"Our little room looked very bare at first with nothing on the walls," Anne wrote in an entry on July 11, 1942. "But thanks to Daddy, who had brought my picture postcards and film-star collection … I have transformed the walls into one gigantic picture. This makes it look much more cheerful."