Sunday, 22 December 2013

Winter Solstice

In astronomy, the solstice is either of the two times a year when the Sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator, the great circle on the celestial sphere that is on the same plane as the earth's equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs either December 21 or 22, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn; the summer solstice occurs either June 20 or 21, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Cancer. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter and summer solstices are reversed.

Reason for the Seasons

The reason for the different seasons at opposite times of the year in the two hemispheres is that while the earth rotates about the sun, it also spins on its axis, which is tilted some 23.5 degrees towards the plane of its rotation. Because of this tilt, the Northern Hemisphere receives less direct sunlight (creating winter) while the Southern Hemisphere receives more direct sunlight (creating summer). As the Earth continues its orbit the hemisphere that is angled closest to the sun changes and the seasons are reversed.

Longest Night of the Year

The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice. Hence the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, "sun" and -stitium, "a stoppage." Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Numbers announced for $636 million Mega Millions jackpot

This holiday season just got a lot merrier for at least two insanely lucky people.Two tickets matched the winning numbers in Tuesday night's $636 million Mega Millions jackpot -- splitting the second-largest prize in U.S. history.
One winning ticket was sold in Atlanta, and the other was sold in San Jose, California, lottery officials said.
The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20 and 39, with a Megaball of 7. Twenty ticket holders will win $1 million after matching all the numbers except the Megaball.Strong sales boosted the jackpot to $636 million from the previous estimate of $586 million, lottery officials announced late Tuesday morning. That's tantalizingly close to the U.S. record -- a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot split by three winning tickets in March 2012.
This jackpot was so large in part because Mega Millions became tougher to win. The prize rises with each miss, and no one had won it since organizers increased the pool of numbers to choose from -- making astronomical odds even longer -- in October. The winning tickets were sold at Jenny's Gift Shop in a San Jose strip mall and a Gateway Newstand in the lobby of an office building near Atlanta's Buckhead area, lottery officials said.
In Florida, $8,000 worth of tickets were sold every minute from 9 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, CNN affiliate WFTS reported, citing lottery officials. Mega Millions tickets go for $1 each, though buyers choose to pay an additional $1 for the Megaplier option, which could multiply lesser, non-jackpot winning prizes.Before the drawing, a lottery player in the Bronx joked Tuesday that the jackpot wouldn't change his life.
"It would just change my vocabulary. I would say, 'I quit' (my job)," he told CNN affiliate News 12 of New York on Tuesday morning in the Bronx's Hunts Point neighborhood. At Bunny's Superette in Manchester, New Hampshire, a clerk told CNN affiliate WMUR that Mega Millions sales were brisk Tuesday -- she'd gone through four rolls of ticket paper by noon.
One player there, Armand Lesage, said he'd like to use the jackpot to escape snowy New Hampshire for a warm vacation. But he'd also share with his large family."My mother had 19 of us, and that is a big family, and 14 are still living," he told WMUR.The chance of winning -- never particularly bright -- got worse in late October, when Mega Millions increased the drawing's pool of numbers. The odds of hitting the jackpot, which were 1 in 176 million, are now 1 in 259 million.You have more than 1,000 times better chance of an asteroid or comet killing you -- and that's using the longest estimated odds for the celestial bodies -- according to Tulane University."Winning the Mega Millions is akin to getting struck by lightning at the same time you're being eaten by a shark," said Todd Northrop, founder of$800 million in lottery prizes unclaimed
Previously, lottery players chose five numbers, ranging from 1 to 56. It's now 1 to 75. But the sixth, gold ball has fewer numbers from which to choose, as the pool decreased from 46 to 15.Mega Millions tickets are sold in 43 states -- all but Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming -- plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Who Is the Best Scientist of All Time?

An online ranking that compares the performance of academics across all fields found that Karl Marx is the most influential scholar and Edward Witten is the most influential scientist Is theoretical physicist Ed Witten more influential in his field than the biologist Solomon Snyder is among life scientists? And how do their records of scholarly impact measure up against those of past greats such as Karl Marx among historians and economists, or Sigmund Freud among psychologists? Performance metrics based on values such as citation rates are heavily biased by field, so most measurement experts shy away from interdisciplinary comparisons. The average biochemist, for example, will always score more highly than the average mathematician, because biochemistry attracts more citations.

But researchers at IUB (Indiana University Bloomington) think that they have worked out the best way of correcting this disciplinary bias. And they are publishing their scores online, for the first time letting academics compare rankings across all fields.Their provisional (and constantly updated) ranking of nearly 35,000 researchers relies on queries made through Google Scholar to normalize the popular metric known as the h-index (a scientist with an h-index of 20 has published at least 20 papers with at least 20 citations each, so the measure takes into account quantity and popularity of research). It found that as of 5 November, the most influential scholar was Karl Marx in history, ahead of Sigmund Freud in psychology. Number three was Edward Witten, a physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. The ranking appears on the website Scholarometer, developed by Filippo Menczer, an informatician at Indiana University Bloomington, and his colleagues Jasleen Kaur and Filippo Radicchi.Universal metrics “We think there is a hunger for this. Our colleagues use Google Scholar all the time, and yet it only shows the h-index," says Menczer. "We are constantly asking ‘how do we evaluate people in a discipline we don’t understand?’”

In October, Menczer's team published a paper arguing that the best statistical way to remove disciplinary bias is to divide a researcher’s h-index by the average of their scholarly field. Using this correction, Marx scores more than 22 times the average h-index of other scholars in history (but 11 times that of the average economist). Witten has more than 13 times the average physicist, and so on. The effect is to ensure that those in, say, the top 5% of their discipline also appear in the top 5% of all scholars. The idea is not new. Metrics experts have invented numerous methods to solve bias, often using averages based on age, journal and scholarly field. Normalized measures are available from commercial information firms such as Thomson Reuters.

First time for everything
But Scholarometer pushes boundaries in two ways. Most importantly, its normalized scores are freely accessible, unlike those of most sites. Thomson Reuters analyses are based on proprietary databases and cannot be made public. Another site, Publish or Perish, does return a variety of age and field-normalized metrics from public queries to Google Scholar — but only to one individual at a time. The problem is that Google Scholar blocks automated computer programs that hit it with multiple queries, making it impossible to collate scores.

The Indiana team’s solution is to create an automated program that does not query Google Scholar itself, but rather scrapes the results of individual Google Scholar queries placed through a Scholarometer browser extension. Over years, they have built up a dynamic public database, with h-indices constantly revised as new Google Scholar queries come in. Menczer says that an age-corrected h-index that allows comparison of scholars at different career stages may follow.

Karl Marx is the most influential scholar ever, according to a discipline-corrected ranking system
Original Article At

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday's Solar Eclipse To Be Rare, Dramatic 'Hybrid' Event

A slice of eastern North America will undergo a weird and dramatic event early Sunday (Nov. 3) morning: a partial eclipse of the sun.

For most North American observers, the partial eclipse will coincide with sunrise. But within a very narrow corridor that extends for 8,345 miles (13,430 kilometers) across the planet, the disks of the sun and the moon will appear to exactly coincide, providing an example of the most unusual type of eclipse: a "hybrid" or "annular-total eclipse."

During annular solar eclipse, the sun looks like a "ring of fire," while the moon and sun line up perfectly during a total eclipse. Throughout a hybrid eclipse, however, the celestial sight transitions from annular to total.This overview map of the Nov. 3, 2013 annular and total solar eclipse, a hybrid solar eclipse, shows the path of the event. Cartographer Michael Zeiler of created this map.

If you don't have a chance to see the eclipse from your part of the world, you can watch the cosmic rarity live on courtesy of the online community observatory The eclipse event begins at 6:45 a.m. EST (1515 GMT) and will run throughout the entirety of the eclipse.A Rare Occurrence

During the 21st century approximately 4.9 percent of all central solar eclipses — those eclipses where the moon crosses directly in front of the disk of the sun — fall into the hybrid classification.

In most cases, an annular-total eclipse starts as an annular, or "ring of fire" eclipse, because the tip of the moon's dark shadow cone — the umbra — falls just short of making contact with the Earth; so the moon appears slightly smaller than the sun producing the same effect as placing a penny atop a nickel leaving a ring of sunlight shining around the moon's edge.

Then the solar eclipse transitions to total, because the roundness of the Earth reaches up and intercepts the shadow tip near the middle of the path, then finally it reverts back to annular toward the end of the path.

However, as pointed out by the renowned Belgian eclipse calculator, Jean Meeus, the hybrid eclipse of Nov. 3 will be a special case: here the eclipse starts out as annular, then after only 15-seconds it will transition to a total eclipse, and then it remains total up to the very end of the eclipse path. The last time this happened was on Nov. 20, 1854 and the next such case after 2013 will occur on Oct. 17, 2172.

Diamond necklace, then totality

At the very beginning of this eclipse track, the tip of the umbra is literally scratching at the surface of the Earth; sitting on the borderline between annular and total it is, for all intents and purposes, a total eclipse with zero duration or ever-so-slightly more after the first 15-seconds of its interaction with our planet. And yet, whether the umbra touches the Earth's surface at the very beginning of the eclipse track – or barely misses — is somewhat irrelevant. Because the silhouette of the moon is not a perfect circle, but rather slightly prickly with mountains, so just before the transition from annular to total, the eclipse will become something neither annular nor total: for a few precious seconds it will be a broken annular.

As lunar mountains protrude onto the hairline-thin ring of the sun, it will be seen not as an unbroken ring but an irregular, changing, sparkling sequence of arcs, beads and diamonds very briefly encircling the moon: a "diamond necklace" effect!

One might witness this highly unusual sight from a particular spot in the Atlantic Ocean — probably measuring less than a mile or two in width — some 405 miles (650 km) southwest of Bermuda. At least one group of ardent eclipse watchers from Germany hope to fly above any possible ocean cloudiness to experience this event.

Sweeping rapidly southeast, the eclipse will rapidly transition to a total eclipse; the totality path will slowly widen and the duration of totality will gradually increase, although the shadow will remain out over open ocean water for 165 minutes before finally making its first landfall at Gabon. Along the way, the point of greatest eclipse is reached at 12:46:28 UT over the tropical eastern Atlantic, at a point 204 miles (328 km) southwest of Monrovia, Liberia. At maximum at mid-path, totality lasts 1 minute 39.6 seconds and the path is 36 miles (57.5 km) wide. The umbra's first landfall comes at 13:50:21 UT at the remote Wonga-Wongue Presidential Reserve, a tract of rain forest on the coast of the central African nation of Gabon. Here, on the center line, the total eclipse will last 1 min 08 sec, with the sun standing 47 degrees high in the southwest sky.

During the next 37 minutes, the path continues out across equatorial Africa as its width and central duration again dwindle. Sliding east-northeast, it will cut through six more African nations. The first two are The Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (known between 1971 and 1997 as the Republic of Zaire).

The path then cuts across a small slice of sparsely populated northern Uganda and northern Kenya and as it is nearing its end, crosses over into southern Ethiopia. Finally, just before the umbra leaves the Earth at sunset over west-central Somalia at 14:27 UT, an exceedingly short total phase predicted to last for less than a second! As was the case at the sunrise part of the path three hours and 22 minutes earlier, fortuitous observers who might have access to a clear horizon toward the west-southwest might witness the setting sun again taking on the appearance of "a diamond tiara."

Detail on the Partial Eclipse

As was noted earlier, only a slice of eastern North America will see a partial solar eclipse, while most of the rest of the continent will see nothing of this event. If you have an atlas, draw a line starting from a point at Sudbury, Ontario south to Port St. Joe, Florida. All places to the left (or west) of this line will not have any view of the eclipse. Meanwhile, those localities to the right (or east) of the line will be able to see at least a part of this eclipse at sunrise, although for those places in the immediate vicinity of this line, the moon's "bite" out of the lower edge of the sun will be tantalizingly small.

For example, while the eclipse will not be visible from Detroit, only about 100 miles to the southeast at Cleveland, the edge of the moon's dark silhouette will be evident on the sun's lower limb as it rises above the east-southeast horizon at 7 a.m. EST (1100 GMT); the moon will obscure only about 15 percent of the sun's diameter, or just about 7 percent of the total disk area of the sun. The "eclipse" -- if we can charitably call it that – will come to an end just nine minutes later.As one heads farther east, the eclipse will last longer and this slight dent will evolve into a more noticeable scallop out of the sun's lower rim. From Pittsburgh, the eclipse will last 29 minutes from the time of local sunrise (6:51 a.m. EST), with about 29 percent of the sun's diameter darkened when it first emerges from above the horizon.

From New England, Sunday's eclipse will mark the end of a nearly 13-year long solar eclipse drought; the last time a solar eclipse was visible from this part of the U.S. was on Christmas Day in the year 2000. From Boston, weather permitting, a most unusual sunrise will occur at 6:22 a.m. EST, with nearly 63 percent of the sun's diameter hidden behind the moon; the sun's lower right portion will be covered. Fifty two minutes later, the last trace of the moon will disappear at the bottom of the solar disk.

From Hamilton, Bermuda, nearly 90 percent of the sun's diameter will be eclipsed, maximum eclipse coming at 7:07 a.m. AST. San Juan, Puerto Rico will see 69 percent coverage at 7:04 a.m. AST.

Full prediction details for many cities are available through NASA.

This information, courtesy of NASA astronomer, Fred Espenak, is given in Universal Time. The sun's altitude and azimuth, the eclipse magnitude (fraction of the sun's diameter occulted by the Moon), and obscuration (fraction of the sun's area occulted by the Moon) are all given for the instant of maximum eclipse.

Remember that Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning! You must set your clocks back one hour to return to standard time. If you fail to do this, you'll be too early by one hour for viewing the eclipse.

A Google map shows the path of the eclipse and you can zoom into it and click at any location to see your local circumstances.

Be Careful!

Once again it needs repeating: to look at the sun without proper eye protection is dangerous.

If you live in the zone where it will be visible, no doubt early on Sunday morning the eclipse will top the local news, followed of course by the usual dire warnings to the public not to risk blindness by carelessly looking at it. This has given most people the idea that eclipses are dangerous. Not so. It's the sun that's dangerous — all the time. Ordinarily, we have no reason to gaze at it. An eclipse gives us a reason, but we shouldn't.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Horizontal Waterfalls in Talbot Bay, Australia

The Horizontal Waterfalls are to be found in the Talbot Bay in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. However; called waterfalls, this stunning natural phenomenon in fact consist of a pair of openings or gorges in the McLarty Range through which immense amount of water are pushed by tidal waves, creating temporary waterfalls up to 5 meters high. And when the tide changes, so does the direction of the flow too. The twin gaps are located on two ridges running parallel approximately 300 meters apart.
The first and most seaward gap is about 20 meters wide and the 2nd the most fantastic; gap is about 10 meters wide. When the rising or falling tide occurs, the water builds up in front of the gaps faster than it can flow through them. This in turn make an astonishing waterfall effect as the water rushes through and then down to the lower levels on the other side of the ridgelines. The course of action is reversed and it is repeated again in the opposite direction. The tides in this vicinity have a 10 meter variation which occurs over 6 1/2 hours from low tide to high tide and vice versa. On a slack tide it is likely to drive boats through the two gaps to the bay behind. The gorgeous waterfall phenomena has been described by David Attenborough as "one of the greatest natural wonders of the world".

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Uni Watch evaluates New Orleans Pelicans

When we invited Uni Watch readers to rename and redesign the New Orleans Hornets last spring, one of the five finalists was this New Orleans Pelicans design by reader Chris Giorgio. That design was by far the most popular option among those who voted in an ESPN SportsNation poll. New Orleans PelicansThe New Orleans Hornets will officially become the New Orleans Pelicans next season.Maybe the NBA or team owner Tom Benson were listening, because the Hornets will become the Pelicans next season. Info on the new uniforms, according to the team's news release, "will be relayed in the coming months," but you can see the team's five new logos here.

Some preliminary thoughts:
• The new name makes a lot more sense for a New Orleans team than "Hornets" ever did, and it's also way better than some of the other names that had been floated. Well done.

• Looks like the NBA's long-running rule about logos having to show a basketball remains intact. It's odd that the league insists on sticking to this protocol. Can you imagine if the NFL had a similar rule about every logo showing a football?

• The feeling here is that the lettering is too ornate, too busy. And the trend of bookending the wordmark with a large letter on the right side is way overplayed by now.

• Oh man, another team wearing red and blue. Sigh. New Orleans has such a rich chromatic tradition, leaning heavily on purple and green. Why use the same default colors that so many other teams use?
• Here's an odd cross-sport confluence: The new Pelicans logo looks a lot like the Patriots' old "tri-corner hat" logo.

• The secondary logos are fine. Nice that they came up with the Bird-de-Lis to replace the Fleur-de-Bee (which was always misnamed, because a hornet is not a bee!).

In short: a mixed bag. But let's wait until we see the uniforms before passing final judgment.
The real question now is whether the Bobcats will claim the name "Hornets" and bring it back to Charlotte.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Taft School Shooting: Teen Gunman Told Teacher, Ryan Heber, 'I Don't Want to Shoot You'

A California teacher'sbrave conversation with a 16-year-old gunman who had opened fire on his classmates allowed 28 other students to quickly escape what could have been a massacre.

Science teacher Ryan Heber calmly confronted the teenager after he shot and critically wounded a classmate, whom he claimed to authorities had bullied him for more than year at Taft Union High School.

"I don't want to shoot you," the teen gunman told Heber, who convinced the teen gunman to drop his weapon, a high power shotgun.

Responding to calls of shots fired, campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields arrived at the classroom and helped Heber talk the boy into giving up the weapon.

"This teacher and this counselor stood there face-to-face not knowing if he was going to shoot them," said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. "They probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape."

One student, who police say the shooter had targeted, was shot. He was airlifted to a hospital and remains in critical, but stable condition, Youngblood said. He is expected to undergo surgery today.

Two other students received minor injuries. One suffered hearing loss and another fell over a table while evacuating. Heber received a wound to his head from a stray pellet, police said.

Police said the teen, whose name has not been made public because he is a minor, began plotting on Wednesday night to kill two students he felt had bullied him.

Authorities believe the suspect found his older brother's gun and brought it into the just before 9 a.m. on Thursday and went to Heber's second-floor classroom where a first period science class with 20 students was taking place.

"He planned the event," Youngblood said. "Certainly he believed that the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind. Whether that occurred or not we don't know yet."

The gunman entered the classroom and shot one of his classmates. Heber immediately began trying to talk him into handing over the gun, and evacuating the other students through the classroom's backdoor.

"The heroics of these two people goes without saying. ... They could have just as easily ... tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn't," the sheriff said. "They knew not to let him leave the classroom with that shotgun."

The gunman was found with several rounds of additional ammunition in his pockets.

Within one minute of the shooting, a 911 call was placed and police arrived on the scene. An announcement was made placing the school on lockdown and warning teachers and students that the precautions were "not a drill."

The school had recently announced new safety procedures following last month's deadly shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in which 20 young children were killed. Six school staffers, including the principal, were killed as they tried to protect the children from gunman Adam Lanza.

The school employs an armed security guard, but he was not on campus Thursday morning.

Youngblood said the student would be charged with attempted murder, but the district attorney would decide if he was to be tried as an adult.

Some 900 students attend Taft Union High School, located in Taft, Calif., a rural community in southern California.

U.S. tells computer users to disable Java software

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is advising people to temporarily disable the Java software on their computers to avoid potential hacking attacks.

The recommendation came in an advisory issued late Thursday, following up on concerns raised by computer security experts.
Experts believe hackers have found a flaw in Java's coding that creates an opening for criminal activity and other high-tech mischief.
The malware has currently been seen attacking Windows, Linux and Unix systems, and while so far has not focused on OS X, may be able to do so given OS X is largely similar to Unix and Java is cross-platform.

Even though the exploit has not been seen in OS X, Apple has taken steps to block it by issuing an update to its built-in XProtect system to block the current version of the Java 7 runtime and require users install an as of yet unreleased version of the Java runtime.

Luckily with the latest versions of Java, users who need to keep it active can change a couple of settings to help secure their systems. Go to the Java Control Panel that is installed along with the runtime, and in the Security section uncheck the option to "Enable Java content in the browser," which will disable the browser plug-in. This will prevent the inadvertent execution of exploits that may be stumbled upon when browsing the Web, and is a recommended setting for most people to do. If you need to see a Java applet on the Web, then you can always temporarily re-enable the plug-in.

The second setting is to increase the security level of the Java runtime, which can also be done in the same Security section of the Java Control Panel. The default security level is Medium, but you can increase this to High or Very High. At the High level, Java will prompt you for approval before running any unsigned Java code, and at the Very High level all Java code will require such approval, regardless of whether or not it is signed."
Java is a widely used technical language that allows computer programmers to write a wide variety of Internet applications and other software programs that can run on just about any computer's operating system.

Oracle Corp. bought Java as part of a $7.3 billion acquisition of the software's creator, Sun Microsystems, in 2010.

Oracle, which is based in Redwood Shores, Calif., had no immediate comment late Friday.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Chuck Hagel nomination creates rare partisan fight over Pentagon post

The nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon has set in motion a highly unusual campaign-style brawl over a Cabinet post long considered above politics.
Supporters and opponents are raising money and building political organizations in anticipation of a grueling and contentious Senate confirmation process
The opponents, led by a conservative group called the Emergency Committee for Israel, began airing attack ads soon after the Nebraska Republican’s name surfaced weeks ago and on Monday rolled out a Web site,, to lay out its case against him. The group has questioned Hagel’s commitment to the security of the Jewish state and accused him of being soft on Iran.
White House officials, meanwhile, have begun an aggressive push to introduce “the real Chuck Hagel,” recruiting high-profile endorsements and contacting potential critics in an effort to neutralize opposition. For the first time since his name was floated, “the White House is putting its full muscle” behind Hagel, said a person familiar with the process.
In the past week, fundraising has become a priority for both sides, introducing a new element of electoral-style politics into a realm that has seldom, if ever, seen it before.
A group of Hagel’s backers, led by Richard Burt, a senior diplomat in the Reagan administration, formed a nonprofit organization and solicited contributions from donors active in foreign policy and defense. Burt said the aim was to prepare a public response to what they said was unfair criticism and make sure “Hagel was not whittled down” before he was nominated. With President Obama officially naming Hagel on Monday and the White House bolstering its defense of the nominee, Burt said his group will refund the donations.
As Burt’s group was getting started, another organization, the Bipartisan Group, hired the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm, to promote Hagel’s credentials.
The escalating campaigns come amid what has already been a flurry of published letters, op-eds, and print and broadcast advertisements.
Officials at the Emergency Committee for Israel said Monday that they are ramping up a substantial online ad campaign, buying Google keywords and placing ads on Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to their new anti-Hagel Web site. “Anyone concerned about Chuck Hagel is going to see what we have to contribute to this debate in the coming weeks,” said Noah Pollak, the group’s executive director.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights, purchased a full-page ad in Monday’s Washington Post recalling Hagel’s 1996 statement supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as a statement he made in 1998 referring to an ambassadorial nominee as “openly, aggressively gay.” The ad notes Hagel’s recent regret for his past comments and labels the apology “Too little, too late.” Gregory T. Angelo, the group’s interim executive director, declined to say how much money the group raised for the anti-Hagel ad.
The battle lines are being drawn so sharply because of the high stakes on all sides.

Work it LinkedIn endorsements explained

The way we find jobs and pitch ourselves to prospective employers is changing rapidly, and LinkedIn is trying to help you stay ahead of the game. The “social network for professionals” recently introduced a new feature called Endorsements that, with a little help from your coworkers and close friends, can help you catch the eye of recruiters who are short on time but long on candidates.
Give a quick overview of your skills
Endorsing someone is a bit like tagging a photo on Flickr. Add just a few tags, er, skills, to your LinkedIn profile, and recruiters can find you more easily and get a quick overview of your areas of expertise. You can also meet other LinkedIn members with similar interests and get a better idea about related fields that you could branch into or specialize in.
Let yourself see more of the big picture
When you’re logged into, the Skills & Expertise menu (More > Skills & Expertise) at the top lets you search for skills to add to your profile. Type a few letters of an “area of expertise” into the search box, and LinkedIn will suggest matches and (ideally) more-specific terms. Click a suggestion to add it to your profile, and you’ll see a page that tells you more about the skill, related skills that you might want to focus on, geographical locations where related positions are especially common, and fellow LinkedIn members that you could reach out to.
Your skills appear on your profile, and the real magic commences after you add a few. When your coworkers and friends log in to LinkedIn, a big blue box at the top of the site will ask them to endorse you and confirm that you possess the skills you claim. Contacts can also visit your LinkedIn profile to see this box.
To endorse someone, simply click the relevant Endorse button. It requires much less of a time commitment than writing a LinkedIn Recommendation does—so it’s an easy way to obtain and display second opinions that back up your expertise.
Manage your endorsements
LinkedIn makes it easy to see who has endorsed you for what skill.
Did you receive an endorsement from a distant friend or a contentious former coworker that you’d rather not show on your public profile? Did someone add a skill to your profile that you're not comfortable with? You can hide rogue endorsements from your LinkedIn profile by editing it Scroll to the Skills & Expertise section, click the Edit button (it looks like a pencil), and then switch to the Manage Endorsements tab.
You can add a total of 50 skills to your profile, but only 10 can be displayed with endorsements, so choose wisely
Is it worth it?
You may be wondering whether doing any of this is worthwhile, even though touching up your profile doesn’t take much time. Anecdotally, I can tell you that I’ve been recruited three times on the basis of my LinkedIn profile, by reputable companies with great offers.
On a broader scale,recruiters have long looked at written LinkedIn Recommendations and the people who wrote them, but the Endorsements feature is only a few months old. The job market is intensely competitive, and this simple way to offer a possible employer a quick overview of your potential value could give you an edge over candidates who require recruiters to read all 1000 words of their profile.

A.J. McCarron brought an entire bagful of shoes with him to Miami

The stereotype of the pretty boy quarterback probably started with Joe Namath. If it didn't start there, Namath surely perfected it.
So it's fitting that the current Alabama quarterback is following in Namath's fashion footsteps.
While A.J. McCarron isn't going to be wearing a fur coat on the sideline, he likes to look fashionable (and we're not making fun of him for it, considering he's got the whole "dating Miss Alabama" thing going on). That is why he brought a whole bagful of shoes with him to the BCS Championship Game.
How many shoes in the bag? He says there are 30 pairs.

Now, why would McCarron need to bring 30 pairs of shoes with him for a six-day stay in Miami?
 figure you can wear the same outfit, change the shoes and it looks like a totally different outfit," McCarron said.
McCarron is famous for his collection of bow ties, wears enough hair gel to double as his helmet and has a wicked chest tattoo, so the love for shoes shouldn't be a big surprise either. Like Deion Sanders says, "If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay* good." (* - we are not saying McCarron will be getting paid good while at Alabama, no matter how good he looks, feels or plays)
"I've got a lot of shoes I've been that way ever since I was little," McCarron said.

Who is ‘Notre Dame’?

The University of Notre Dame takes on Alabama Monday night in the BCS national championship game, but when cheering fans shout “Go Notre Dame!” from the stadium bleachers, what are they really saying?
When The Rev. Edward Sorin of the French Congregation of Holy Cross founded the university in 1842, he gave it the French name L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac, (In English: The University of Our Lady of the Lake).“I came here as a young man and dreamed of building a great university in honor of Our Lady,” Sorin later said. So when fans root for Notre Dame, they are actually crying out “Our Lady,” a title referring to Mary, known to Catholics as the virgin mother of Jesus. The words of the university’s alma mater were written by a priest, and the song also honors Mary, saying “Notre Dame, our mother.” In addition to “Touchdown Jesus,” the university’s campus is famous for its golden domed-building upon which a statue of Mary stands.
“Prayers and hymns honoring the Blessed Virgin can be traced back as far as the third century, but the Middle Ages, especially the eleventh and twelfth centuries, were the period [of] increased reverence for Our Blessed Lady” writes author M.M. Miles in her book “Maiden and Mother.” Churches and other Catholics institutions have been named after her or dedicated to her honor for 1,600 years. Notre Dame joins thousands of other Catholic institutions today in being named after the Virgin Mary.
According to Catholic theology, Mary was conceived in her mother Anne’s womb without original sin (called the “Immaculate Conception”), and never physically consummated her marriage to Joseph, Jesus’s adoptive, earthly father, making her a “perpetual virgin.” Because she is seen as fully human, Catholics are often implored to live Mary’s example of obedience to God and selfless devotion to Jesus (who is considered both God and man.) She’s been called “the first disciple.”
To Catholics, the presence of the Virgin Mary is often seen as a sign of hope in places or times of distress. There are historical examples, many still venerated today, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe or Our Lady of Fatima, and those of the present day, such as the statue of the Virgin Mary that survived the destruction of Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, NY.
What does the virgin mother of God have to do with crushing skulls on the football field? Plenty, if you read Kevin Helliker’s piece in Monday’s Wall Street Journal.
The University of Notre Dame and its football team have blended ancient Catholic traditions with purely Fighting Irish ones, from attending Mass before games to pre-game prayers of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
No, you don’t have to be Catholic to attend Notre Dame, but 83 percent of its student body is. While Helliker reported that “most players on the Notre Dame squad aren’t Catholic,” that has not stopped most of them from embracing the school’s longtime religious traditions.
Gerome Sapp, the captain of the 2002 squad, according to Helliker’s reporting, “had no qualms about leading the team in the Hail Mary, a prayer utterly alien to his Southern Baptist upbringing.” Sapp told Helliker “[the Hail Mary] prayer was just one tradition in a school rich with tradition.”
For others, it’s a tradition too far: “The distance between popular evangelicalism and popular Roman Catholicism is never more apparent than when doctrines and devotional practices about Mary arise,” said the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Explains Mohler: “Evangelical Christians honor Mary as she is rightly honored in Scripture. . . But evangelicals do not find any biblical basis for claims that Mary holds a continuing functional role in salvation or the Christian life.”
Notre Dame also has its critics within the church. Post writer and ND alum Melinda Henneberger says she won’t be cheering for her alma mater because she believes the university responded deeply inadequately to allegations of sexual assault and rape against two players. Michael Leahy, writing for Outlook, said that Notre Dame reflects many of the issues that Catholics have with their church at large --from prohibitions on contraception to not tolerating dissent. On the other end of the spectrum from Leahy is the Cardinal Newman Society, which has often criticized Notre Dame as not Catholic enough for acts like its invitation and honorary degree to President Obama in 2009.
The university named after the Virgin Mary has served not only as a home for storied sports teams facing off on the football field, but has also been, like the church itself, home of many battles over how to keep the faith.