Daily Archives: August 2, 2012

Galactic Views (57)


Field of Stars
NASA – The Hubble Space Telescope captured a crowd of stars that looks rather like a stadium darkened before a show, lit only by the flashbulbs of the audience’s cameras. Yet the many stars of this object, known as Messier 107, are not a fleeting phenomenon, at least by human reckoning of time — these ancient stars have gleamed for many billions of years.

Messier 107 is one of more than 150 globular star clusters found around the disc of the Milky Way galaxy. These spherical collections each contain hundreds of thousands of extremely old stars and are among the oldest objects in the Milky Way. The origin of globular clusters and their impact on galactic evolution remains somewhat unclear, so astronomers continue to study them.

Messier 107 can be found in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer) and is located about 20,000 light-years from our solar system.

French astronomer Pierre Méchain first noted the object in 1782, and British astronomer William Herschel documented it independently a year later. A Canadian astronomer, Helen Sawyer Hogg, added Messier 107 to Charles Messier‘s famous astronomical catalogue in 1947.

This picture was obtained with the Wide Field Camera of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Image credit: ESA/NASA

Neil Barofsky on the “Broken Promises” of the Bank Bailouts


Bailout, Author: Neil Barofsky.

By Jason M. Breslow – From December 2008 to March 2011, Barofsky, a formal federal prosecutor and lifelong Democrat, served as special inspector general of TARP, charged with protecting against abuse and fraud in the program. In his new book about that experience, Bailout, he writes that the American people “should be enraged by the broken promises to Main Street and the unending protection of Wall Street.”

It’s pretty hopeless. Unless you recognize the flaws of our system and how fundamentally broken our system of regulation is, it’s going to remain hopeless. more> http://tinyurl.com/cf8guvy

Libor Punishment Could Be Worse Than the Crime

Go Away Federal Reserve System!

Go Away Federal Reserve System!
(Photo credit: r0b0r0b)

By Mikhail Chernov – Before authorities topple more banks’ managements and scrap an indicator that has served the market for three decades, they should ask themselves a question: Who was really harmed?

Banks lowered the borrowing rates they reported for the calculation of Libor because they wanted to avoid the impression that they were in distress. Some estimates suggest U.S. dollarLibor might, at certain times during 2008, have been artificially depressed by more than 0.30 percentage point.

The misreporting was bad for investors in various securities, such as mortgage bonds tied to Libor, because it artificially lowered the payments they received. It also provided a welcome relief for millions of struggling U.S. homeowners with floating-rate mortgages, and greatly helped the Federal Reserve in its efforts to get interest rates down. more> http://tinyurl.com/cd55rzy

The Motorized Unicycle

By Chris Fox – Imagine a hybrid unicycle with the balancing elements and mobility of a Segway. Frightened yet? RYNO Motors has created a motorized unicycle.

“I started with servo motors and conventional servo motors. I figured, if this is a gyro stabilized platform, I don’t need an encoder.” RYNO Motors CEO, Christopher Hoffman says, “I also realized that I didn’t even need all of the closed-loop motion control; it’s all open loop, so I was able to use a $35 scooter motor. I couldn’t kill it on that.” As he pieced together the initial build, Hoffman combined gyros from electric helicopters, a motor controller from a former BattleBots company, a motorcycle tire, and a processor for his first prototype.

“.. but when a unicycle club came over to try it, only one guy could really ride it kind of well.”

more> http://tinyurl.com/chrcgef

In U.S. broadband, cable is eating the Bells’ lunch

By Om Malik – The news isn’t all that bad. For example, Verizon continues to add subscribers for its fiber broadband service FiOS. It added 134,000 net subscribers in the second quarter of 2012, down from 189,000 it added in Q2 2011.

In the end, phone companies added 687,000 higher-speed broadband customers but lost 781,000 DSL customers. So in order for AT&T and Verizon to keep fighting cable, it is pretty clear: they need to keep offering better broadband services and higher speed packages. more> http://tinyurl.com/c3dzo38


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