Tuesday, June 03, 2008

'Kryptonite' discovered in mine

Kryptonite is no longer just the stuff of fiction feared by caped superheroes.

A new mineral matching its unique chemistry - as described in the film Superman Returns - has been identified in a mine in Serbia.

According to movie and comic-book storylines, kryptonite is supposed to sap Superman's powers whenever he is exposed to its large green crystals.

The real mineral is white and harmless, says Dr Chris Stanley, a mineralogist at London's Natural History Museum.

"I'm afraid it's not green and it doesn't glow either - although it will react to ultraviolet light by fluorescing a pinkish-orange," he told BBC News.

Rock heist

Researchers from mining group Rio Tinto discovered the unusual mineral and enlisted the help of Dr Stanley when they could not match it with anything known previously to science.

Once the London expert had unravelled the mineral's chemical make-up, he was shocked to discover this formula was already referenced in the literature - albeit literary fiction.

"Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula - sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide - and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luthor from a museum in the film Superman Returns.

"The new mineral does not contain fluorine (which it does in the film) and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite."

The mineral is relatively hard but is very small grained. Each individual crystal is less than five microns (millionths of a metre) across.

Elementary clash

Identifying its atomic structure required sophisticated analytical facilities at Canada's National Research Council and the assistance and expertise of its researchers, Dr Pamela Whitfield and Dr Yvon Le Page.

"'Knowing a material's crystal structure means scientists can calculate other physical properties of the material, such as its elasticity or thermochemical properties," explained Dr Le Page.

"Being able to analyse all the properties of a mineral, both chemical and physical, brings us closer to confirming that it is indeed unique."

Finding out that the chemical composition of a material was an exact match to an invented formula for the fictitious kryptonite "was the coincidence of a lifetime," he added.

The mineral cannot be called kryptonite under international nomenclature rules because it has nothing to do with krypton - a real element in the Periodic Table that takes the form of a gas.

Power possibilities

Instead, it will be formally named jadarite when it is described in the European Journal of Mineralogy later this year.

Jadar is the name of the place where the Serbian mine is located.

Dr Stanley said that if deposits occurred in sufficient quantity it could have some commercial value.

It contains boron and lithium - two valuable elements with many applications, he explained.

"Borosilicate glasses are used to encapsulate processed radioactive waste, and lithium is used in batteries and in the pharmaceutical industry."

Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy Outlook Grim

Sen. Ted Kennedy (pictured) was hospitalized and treated for a seizure recently.

A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said Tuesday.

The Massachusetts Democrat as a malignant glioma in the left parietal-lobe, according to doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, where Kennedy, 76, has been undergoing tests since Saturday after having a seizure at his Cape Cod home.

The usual course of treatment includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy, but Kennedy's treatment will be decided after more tests.

Obama clinches Democratic nomination

Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination today, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead our party into a fall campaign for the White House.

Personally I wanted Hillary to win. I agree with Obama's policies, it's just that I agree with Hillary's a little bit more. It has been a long and eventful/revealing journey for both candidates. Now that its over I have a few last comments.

1. Hillary should be Barack's running mate. This is because if Hillary was his running mate then Barack would have all of Hillary's voters locked up in his pocket.
2. Michigan's and Florida's delegates should not have been slashed. This action is comparable to the "three-fifths" judgement in 1787. This ruling basically stated that 5 black people equaled to 3 people (the significance of this was for determining the number of Representatives in the House).
3. I really didn't care who the next President is as long as it's not McCain or that fucking war hawk Biden.
4. Just to recap Democratic Nominees (in order of Delegate count): Barack Obama Jr., Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinnich, Joe Biden, Christopher Dodd, Mike Gravel, Bill Richardson, and Tom Vilsack.

I'm now rooting for Obama. Best of luck in the election, Mr. Obama. :) :P

Reading text with jumbled letters in words

It was about four years ago when I received an email about how easy it is to read text with scrambled letters in every word -- as long as the first and last letter of each word remains unchanged..

This email story is still in circulation. However, as most email stories circulate, they began to mutate to some extent. The last time I received this story it was attributed to a Cambridge University researcher and read:

According to a researcher at Cambridge University, it doesn't matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.

It really does work. The preceding paragraph, in jumbled letter format is:

Acocdrnig to a reschearer at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

And I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmtorant.

How would this affect people with dyslexia who already see words and numbers in a jumbled state?

Susan Saradon is Pissed

Susan Saradon said today that if McCain wins the election she will move to either Italy or Canada.

New Tribe Discovered In Brazil

Another uncontacted indigenous tribe has been spotted in one of Brazil's deep jungles.
The photo was released by Survival International, showing uncontacted Indians of the Ethno-Environmental Protected Area along the Envira river, in the Brazilian state of Acre, close to the border with Peru, photographed during a flight in May 2008.

The picture shows tribesmen, painted red head to toe, aiming longbows at the aircraft circling above.

The government foundation known as Funai said it photographed "strong and healthy" warriors, six huts and an area of crops. It is not known which tribe the group belonged to.

Funai does not make contact with indigenous people and prevents invasions of their lands, to ensure total autonomy for the tribes, the foundation said.

Fiona Watson, campaign co-coordinator for Survival International, said the tribesmen are likely "fragments" of what was once a much larger group.

Watson said contact with outsiders could even be fatal for these tribespeople, who would be vulnerable to diseases.

"These people are very isolated, they have no immunity to common things like the cold and flu and they could die very quickly," Watson told Newsnet.