Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Microsoft has posted its first quarterly loss in its 26 years -

Microsoft has posted its first quarterly loss in its 26 years - 

Microsoft has posted its first quarterly loss in its 26 years as a public company as it declared a struggling online ad business a bust and prepared for one of the biggest product updates in its history.
The software company had warned two weeks ago that it would take a $6.2 billion charge in the April-June quarter because its 2007 purchase of online ad service aQuantive failed to help it compete with Google Inc. The amount reflected the bulk of the $6.3 billion it paid for aQuantive.
The purchase of aQuantive, Microsoft's most expensive deal at the time, was supposed to help Microsoft boost its online ad business and mount a more serious challenge to Google. But the division housing aQuantive continued to post losses — totaling more than $9 billion since the company bought aQuantive, not including the charge.
By contrast, Google has widened its lead in the growing online ad market, thanks in part to its purchase of DoubleClick for $3.2 billion about eight months after Microsoft took control of aQuantive.
Google's search engine, a major vehicle for selling ads, has remained strong, while Microsoft's Bing search engine saw its market share drop slightly to 26 percent, from 27 percent a year ago. The Bing figures include searches through business partner Yahoo Inc., which has been using Microsoft's search technology for nearly two years.
The aQuantive setback didn't faze investors, who have been used to years of troubles in Microsoft's online ad business. Investors usually focus on what lies ahead for a company instead of dwelling on past mistakes. Despite the loss, Microsoft's stock was up 72 cents, or 2.4 percent, at $31.39 in after-hours trading following the announcement.

Read more -

Entire genome of human sperm sequenced for the first time - every sperm cell has a different genome -

Entire genome of human sperm sequenced for the first time - every sperm cell has a different genome - 

Researchers at Stanford University have sequenced the entire genomes of 91 human sperm from a single man – providing insight into the genetic variation that naturally occurs in a single individual.
The project marks the first time the whole-genome of a human gamete has been sequenced.
Published in the journal Cell, the study offers more detailed knowledge about the process of genetic recombination – the method in which DNA from both a mother and a father blend together in the children they produce.  Recombination facilitates both the breaking apart and rejoining of chromosomes during reproduction.
“We learned some really interesting details about how the body mixes together the genomes from parents to create new genomes for their potential children,” said Steve Quake, professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Stanford University as well as the study’s lead author. “That’s why every sperm cell has a different genome.  Your body mixes to create unique genomes so your offspring have different genetic diversity.”
Providing greater detail
Quake and his colleagues isolated and sequenced nearly 100 sperm cells from a 40-year-old man with healthy children.  They compared the sperm sequences with the man’s whole-genome sequence, ultimately allowing them to identify where and when recombination took place.
Until this sequencing project, scientists could only rely on genetic studies of population to estimate how often recombination occurred in sperm and egg cells as well as the amount of genetic mixing the process needed.  
The Stanford study essentially confirmed what these previous studies theorized: Each sperm in the sample underwent 23 recombination events, or mixing events.  However, the study also showed that the degree of genetic mixing varied greatly between individual sperm, as well as the frequency and severity of spontaneous genetic mutations.  According to the researchers, the sequencing technique used in their study can provide a better guide as to what exactly happens during  a sperm’s development.
“[Before this study], we have no way to catalogue  the mutations and the recombination events of an individual,” co-author Barry Behr, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of Stanford’s in vitro fertilization laboratory, told FoxNews.com.  “Once we get our understanding of these, we can map them and see how they change as a man ages. We could map these in healthy versus unhealthy people.  We could map these in fertile and infertile people, and really get a better understanding as to what the fundamental makeup of a good sperm versus a bad sperm is.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/07/19/entire-genome-human-sperm-sequenced-for-first-time/?intcmp=trending

NASA spies bright-blue 'intense' daylight lightning on Saturn -

NASA spies bright-blue 'intense' daylight lightning on Saturn - 

A NASA spacecraft orbiting Saturn has captured an amazing view of lightning in broad daylight on the ringed planet.
The Cassini orbiter captured the daytime lightning on Saturn as bright blue spots inside a giant storm that raged on the planet last year. NASA unveiled the new Saturn lightning photos Wednesday (July 18), adding that the images came as a big surprise.
"We didn't think we'd see lighting on Saturn's day side —only its night side," said Ulyana Dyudina, a Cassini imaging team associate at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, in a statement. "The fact that Cassini was able to detect the lightning means that it was very intense."
Cassini spotted the daytime lightning while observing a giant Saturn storm on March 6, 2011. A blue filter on the spacecraft's main camera recorded the lightning flashes, and scientists then exaggerated the blue tint in order to pin down the lightning's location and size, researchers said. 
The Saturn lightning in Cassini's new images apparently packs quite a wallop. An analysis of the new images revealed that the energy from the visible lightning flashes alone could have spiked up to 3 billion watts over one second. That makes the daytime Saturn lightning on par with some of the strongest lightning flashes on Earth.
Cassini mission scientists said the lightning on Saturn was spotted across a region 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide where it exited the cloud layer. In all, Cassini spotted eight daytime lightning flashes on Saturn, five in one part of the storm and three in an another, they added.[More Photos of Saturn's Monster Storm]

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/07/19/daytime-lightning-on-saturn-spotted-by-cassini-spacecraft/?test=latestnews

Nearly 36 percent of Fukushima children diagnosed with abnormal thyroid growths -

Nearly 36 percent of Fukushima children diagnosed with abnormal thyroid growths - 

Nearly 36 percent of children in Fukushima Prefecture have been disgnosed with abnormal growths on their thyroids, although doctors insist there is no link between the "cluster" of incidents and the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in March of last year.

The Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, released in April, included examinations of 38,114 children, of whom 35.3 percent - some 13,460 children - were found to have cysts or nodules of up to 5 mm (0.197 inches) on their thyroids.

A further 0.5 percent, totalling 186 youngsters, had nodules larger than 5.1 mm (0.2 inches).

A study by the Japan Thyroid Association in 2001 found that zero percent of children in the city of Nagasaki had nodules and only 0.8 percent had cysts on their thyroids.

"Yes, 35.8 percent of children in the study have lumps or cysts, but this is not the same as cancer," said Naomi Takagi, an associate professor at Fukushima University Medical School Hospital, which administered the tests.

"We do not know that cause of this, but it is hard to believe that is due to the effects of radiation," she said. "This is an early test and we will only see the effects of radiation exposure after four or five years."

The local authority is carrying out long-term testing of children who were under the age of 18 on March 11 last year, the day on which the magnitude-9 Great East Japan struck off the coast of north-east Japan, triggering the massive tsunami that crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Thyroid examinations were first conducted in October last year and will be carried out every two years up to the age of 20 and every five years for the rest of the children's lives.

A second report has been issued by Japan's Institute of Radiological Sciences in which it found that some children living close to the plant were exposed to "lifetime" doses of radiation to their thyroid glands.----


Video Footage Of Suspected Israel Bus Suicide Bomber Who Is Caucasian And Had Fake Michigan License -

Video Footage Of Suspected Israel Bus Suicide Bomber Who Is Caucasian And Had Fake Michigan License - 
PHOTO: The explosion on a bus full of Israeli tourists was likely carried out by a suicide bomber who had a fake Michigan driver's license.

The smoke from the exploded bus carrying Israeli tourists was still billowing and yet Israeli PM Netanyahu had already declared that "Iran is responsible for the terror attack in Bulgaria, we will have a strong response against Iranian terror." Perhaps that statement was a little premature: as footage released by Bulgarian police indicates, the suspected suicide bomber is Caucasian, and was in possession of a Michigan driver's license, supposedly a fake one, but why anyone in Bulgaria would be carrying a fake Michigan ID is just a little confusing.

From Haaretz:

A top Bulgarian official said it was a "mistake" to lay the responsibility of a terror attack on an Israeli tourist bus on any specific countries or organizations, on Thursday, as security camera footage revealed the person authorities suspected of perpetrating the suicide attack.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli and Bulgarian stated that the Wednesday attack on the bus in the coastal city of Burgas, killing seven and wounding dozens, was a suicide bombing.

The Bulgarian police said that footage from airport security cameras captured the suspect roaming the airport for at least one hour, the Bulgarian news agency Novinite reported. According to the report he was a long-haired Caucasian in sportswear.

The body suspected as belonging to the terrorist had a U.S. driver's license issued in Michigan – apparently fake.

Following the attack on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran is responsible for the terror attack, saying that all the evidence in Israel's possession points to Iran as the responsible party.

"In the past months we saw Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Kenya, and Cyprus," Netanyahu said. "Exactly 18 years after the attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina, the Iranian terror continues to hurt innocent people."

"This is an Iranian terror offensive that is spreading throughout the world," he said, warning that Israel will issue a "strong response against Iranian terror."

However, speaking on Thursday, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said that he thought "it is wrong and a mistake to point fingers at this stage of the investigation at any country or organization."

"We are only in the beginning of the investigation and it is wrong to jump to conclusions," he added, saying that Bulgaria had "excellent cooperation with the Israeli security forces in matters pertaining to the investigation."
And this is the clip that was released showing the alleged bomber: