Saturday, October 13, 2012

Islamist Swingers and Spider Silk (Link Round-Up 10/13/12)

[via Reddit]

Hezbollah admits to launching drone over Israel
The drone, which did not carry any explosives, was destroyed over a largely uninhabited area. It flew some 35 miles (55km) inland before being shot down.

On at least three occasions unmanned aircraft operated by Hezbollah have been detected over Israeli territory.

Although Israeli officials have not given details of where they think the drone came from, Israel's media have published maps indicating it was launched near the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon.
Mali Islamists tell France they will open doors of hell
MUJWA's Hamaha said that Islamists in the Sahara desert were largely funded by ransom payments from France and others. 
 "The top country who finances the jihadis is France," he said, adding that MUJWA could try to kidnap Hollande himself. "I wonder what the international community would say if we took the French president hostage."
The swingers’ guide to Islam
Of course, the ritual isn’t Islam as most would recognise it. Instead, it’s emblematic of Indonesia’s – and especially Java’s – syncretic mix of Islam with earlier Hindu, Buddhist and animist beliefs. But what is truly surprising is that even while Indonesia undergoes a steady shift towards more orthodox Islam, the ritual on Gunung Kemukus is exploding in popularity. It’s a quintessentially Indonesian contradiction.

Tracing the roots of the ritual at Gunung Kemukus involves dipping into the confused story of the fall of Majapahit, the last great Hindu-Buddhist empire of Java. At its height, Majapahit ruled vassals as far away as southern Thailand. But by the start of the 16th century, it had fallen apart and was being eclipsed by a plethora of small courts that were steadily adopting the new religion of Islam. The remainder of Majapahit’s court fled to the volcanic hills of eastern Java and Bali, where the old religion has carried on and evolved to today. Across Java, Islam spread unevenly. In some areas, a more orthodox form of the religion took hold; in other areas, a more pragmatic fusion was made with Java’s traditional beliefs, which are collectively known as kejawen.

All cultures are a blend of influences. But for the Javanese, a very cornerstone of their identity has been the ability to blend together contradictory ideas and belief systems that would leave other peoples hopelessly divided. It’s the kind of culture that will allow a ritual of adultery to exist alongside a moral code imported from the sparse deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. Nothing is black and white here. 
Spider silk could weave biodegradable computer chips
The achievement could open the door to medical applications, such as silk fibers carrying light to places in the body for internal imaging. Because spider silk is incredibly thin — roughly five microns in diameter or 10 times thinner than a human hair – surgeons could perform diagnostic exams using very small openings in the body.

“These materials are harmless, so you can implant them,” said biomedical engineer Fiorenzo Omenetto of Tufts University in Somerville, Massachusetts, who has been working in this field for years and will also be giving a talk on opportunities for silk in high-tech products at Frontiers in Optics. “The body has no reaction to them.”

Omenetto envisions future applications where, after a medical procedure, doctors and surgeons place a silk bandage in a patient embedded with electronic functions to monitor for possible infections. The patient can be closed up and then never have to worry about having the monitoring device taken out again because the body will simply absorb the material. Already his team has developed a small implantable radio frequency heater that could sterilize an area against bacteria.
Mysterious elk-shaped structure discovered in Russia
"The figure would initially have looked white and slightly shiny against the green grass background," write Stanislav Grigoriev, of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of History & Archaeology, and Nikolai Menshenin, of the State Centre for Monument Protection, in an article first detailing the discovery published last spring in the journal Antiquity. They note that it is now covered by a layer of soil.

Fieldwork carried out this past summer has shed more light on the glyph's composition and date, suggesting it may be the product of a "megalithic culture," researchers say. They note that hundreds of megalithic sites have been discovered in the Urals, with the most elaborate structures located on a freshwater island about 35 miles (60 km) northeast of the geoglyph.
The World’s First 3D-Printed Acoustic Guitar
Since the acoustic guitar would be made from fused plastic, Summit figured it would have some serious shortcomings. If it actually worked, it would probably sound worse than his old $100 model. But chances were the guitar would break under the 200 pounds of string pressure that comes with tightening the strings via a tuning machine. Summit set up a video camera to record what would happen when the stringing process started. “I thought it would at least be cool if the guitar exploded,” he says.

But, no. It worked, and it sounds pretty good. “It’s rich and full and has a great tonal range,” says Summit, who’s been known to play at friends’ weddings and at dive bars.

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