WSJ.com: The H1-B visa program that feeds skilled workers to top-tier US technology companies and universities is on track to leave thousands of spots unfilled for the first time since 2003, a sign of how the weak economy has eroded employment even among highly trained professionals.
Last year, even as the recession began to bite, employers snapped up the 65,000 visas available in just one day. This year, however, as of 25 September—nearly six months after the US government began accepting applications—only 46,700 petitions had been filed.
In addition to the weak economy, companies have curbed applications in the face of rising costs associated with hiring foreign-born workers.
While the number of visa holders is small compared with the US work force, their contribution is huge, employers say. For example, last year 35% of Microsoft’s patent applications in the US came from new inventions by visa and green-card holders, according to company general counsel Brad Smith.
BBC news: Drawn half a millennium ago and then swiftly forgotten, one map made us see the world as we know it today… and helped name America. But, as BBC news reporter Toby Lester discovered, the first map that outlined the continents of the world as we know them today, also named America based on a pun.
In late May 2003 the Library of Congress bought the only surviving copy of Martin Waldseemüller’s monumental 1507 world map for $10 million (image credit: Library of Congress).
The Map that named America
Wired.com: A cell in the eye may be worth two in the beak, at least when it comes to a migratory bird’s magnetic compass.
In European robins (right image), a visual center in the brain and light-sensing cells in the eye—not magnetic sensing cells in the beak—allow the songbirds to sense which direction is north and migrate correctly, a new study finds. The study published in Nature, may improve conservation efforts for migratory birds.
Visual but not trigeminal mediation of magnetic compass information in a migratory bird
The Daily Telegraph: UK academics are calling on members of the public to use their mobile phones to record their local soundscape and send them the results.
It is hoped that the clips will then make up a detailed acoustic map of the noise environment around the country and help offset the growing menace of noise pollution.
The project—which will make the raw acoustic data available on the web—aims to get a better idea of why some sounds add to the atmosphere of a place and others detract and cause annoyance.
Nature: Forty years ago today the first message was sent between computers on the ARPANET. Vinton G. Cerf, who was a principal programmer on the project, reflects on how our online world was shaped by its innovative origins.
guardian.co.uk: The chief executive of defense research technology firm QinetiQ has quit the company just hours after it was criticized by the official report into a 2006 Nimrod plane crash in Afghanistan, which claimed 14 lives.
Graham Love, who has run the company for the last four years, is departing on 30 November. His replacement, Leo Quinn, is the former chief executive of bank-note maker DeLaRue.
“We have been looking at succession planning for over a year,” a company spokesman said. “[It is] mistaken to directly link the two events.”
Science: The blogosphere has been having a field day with global warming’s apparent decade-long stagnation. Negotiators are working toward an international global warming agreement to be signed in Copenhagen in December, yet there hasn’t been any warming for a decade. What’s the point, bloggers ask?
Climate researchers are beginning to answer back in their preferred venue, the peer-reviewed literature. The pause in warming is real enough, but it’s just temporary, they argue from their analyses. A natural swing in climate to the cool side has been holding greenhouse warming back, and such swings don’t last forever. “In the end, global warming will prevail,” says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City.
latimes.com: A big earthquake and resultant fire could trigger potentially deadly releases of radioactive materials from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico due to “major deficiencies” in the nuclear weapons lab’s safety planning, federal safety experts warned Tuesday.
The warning from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board was sent to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, urging him to “execute both immediate and long-term actions.”
The Daily Telegraph: A team of fluid dynamics experts have worked out what causes the so-called “teapot effect” and have come up with a way to put an end to it.
They have deduced that at low pouring speeds tea starts to stick to the inside of the spout, causing the flow to momentarily stop and then start again—in other words to dribble.
By reducing the friction between the spout and the fluid, the dribble can be all but eradicated even towards the end of a pour, claim the scientists at the University of Lyons in France.