Author Archive | Pelliciari

Number Of Species On Earth Estimated At 8.7 Million

SpeciesEver wonder how many species are sharing this Earth? Apparently it’s 8.7 million, give or take a few. This takes into account the few thousand plant or marine species we haven’t discovered yet or documented. Via Physorg:

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth — the most precise calculation ever offered — with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.

Announced today by Census of Marine Life scientists, the figure is based on an innovative, validated analytical technique that dramatically narrows the range of previous estimates. Until now, the number of species on Earth was said to fall somewhere between 3 million and 100 million.

Furthermore, the study, published today by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

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Norway Wants Ship Back 80 Years After Sinking In Canadian Arctic

B&AShip

Photo: Ansgar Walk (CC)

Via Discovery News:

Eighty years after it sank in the Canadian Arctic, explorer Roald Amundsen’s three-mast ship Maud may once again sail across the Atlantic to become the centerpiece of a new museum in Norway.

Canada, however, must still agree to the repatriation plan hatched by Norwegian investors, amid strong opposition from locals in the Canadian territory of Nunavut who want the ship to stay for tourists to admire from shore.

The wreck now sits at the bottom of Cambridge Bay in Nunavut, but its hulk is partly visible above the frigid waters that preserved it for decades.

“The incredibly strong-built oak ship has been helped by the Arctic cold and clean water to be kept in a reasonably good shape,” said Jan Wanggaard, a Norwegian who recently visited the wreck to sort out technical problems with raising the ship as well as to survey the views from locals and officials.

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Google Earth Begins Mapping Amazon Rainforest

Photo: Alex Guerrero (CC)

Photo: Alex Guerrero (CC)

Not sure if ‘street view’ is the right term for it, but Google has begun mapping the Amazon much like it does streets in cities and towns. Via The Australian:

Two women washed clothes in the dark water of the Rio Negro as a boat glided past with a camera-laden Google tricycle strapped to the roof, destined to give the world a window into the Amazon rainforest.

A “trike” typically used to capture street scenes for Google’s free online mapping service launched last Thursday from the village of Tumbira in a first-ever project to let web users virtually explore the world’s largest river, its wildlife and its communities.

The project was the brainchild of Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), which two years ago went to Google Earth with a vision of turning “Street View” into a river view in the lush and precious Amazon Basin.

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Scientists Seek To Turn Chickens Into Mini-Dinosaurs

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Didn’t we learn anything from Jurassic Park? Scientists have created embryo’s with ‘alligator-like snouts’ and are hoping to be able to further ‘undo’ evolution with future trials. The New Zealand Herald reports:

Harvard scientists are hoping to turn chickens into mini-dinosaurs, according to the Daily Mail.

Scientists at the Ivy League university have ‘rewound’ evolution with chicken DNA to create embryos with alligator-like snouts instead of beaks.

By altering the DNA of chicken embryos in the early stage of their development, the team were able to ‘undo’ evolutionary progress and give the creatures snouts which are thought to have been lost in the cretaceous period millions of years ago.

Evolutionary biologist Arkhat Abzhanov developed the chickens with snouts by cutting a square hole in the shell of a chicken egg and dropping in a small gelatinous protein bead, before watching the embryo develop – stifling the development of certain molecules and preventing the birds from growing certain features.

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Russian Scientist Photographs The Soul

Photo: sunhome.ruMosNews reports:

The activity of Konstantin Korotkov, deputy director of the St. Petersburg Research Institute of Physical Culture and world-renowned authority on Kirlian photography, was recently highlighted by Life.ru. Korotkov is the developer of the gas-discharge visualization (GDV) technique in Kirlian photography.

Kirlian photography takes its name from Soviet electrician Semyon Kirlian, who discovered the process in 1939. It was the subject of extensive research in the 1970s in the Soviet Union and the West. It is commonly described as photographing an object’s aura. According to a website associated with Korotkov, he “confirmed earlier observations … that the stimulated electro-photonic glow around human fingertips contained astonishingly coherent and comprehensive information about the human state — both physiological and psychological.”

In other words, the GDV technique, which was developed in the late 1990s, can be used for diagnostic and assessment purposes. It is already used to measure stress and monitor the progress of medical treatments.

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U.S. Troops To Get Silky Boxers For Safer Combat

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Not only are US troops getting new helmets, but ‘ballistic boxers’ are also on the list to protect the privates’ privates. CNN reports:

Next month, the Army is going to start sending the “ballistic boxers” to soldiers in Afghanistan, and the Marines intend for each of their troops there to have four pairs of the “protective undergarments,” as they are formally known, before the end of the year.

The heavy silk boxers, which look like shorts that professional cyclists wear, won’t stop a bullet or shrapnel from an IED. But the silk can stop small projectiles like those kicked up by an explosion.

“It is expected to prevent fine sands and particles that are thrown up by explosives, so that the tissue wounds are cleaner, less ragged and easier to treat,” said Lt. Jamie Larson, a Marines Corps spokesperson. And since the silk is treated with antimicrobial agents, the boxers help protect injured troops from wound infections.

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Reporters Covering VP Biden In China Are Shoved Out

BidenpetraeusHow do you clear a room full of press in China? Give Joe Biden a chance to speak. Only minutes after Vice President Biden’s speech, Chinese officials were directing journalists toward the exits. Los Angeles Times reports:

Vice President Joe Biden’s famously loquacious style has now become the source of some international tension.

At the senior levels, the American and Chinese delegations actually seem to be getting along quite well. But relations between the press and staff traveling with the vice president and Chinese officials guarding access to the leaders are another story entirely.

Biden’s schedule Thursday, his first full day in China, included two bilateral meetings with Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping. American and Chinese press were to be allowed in to hear the opening remarks at the start of the first, expanded meeting.

At least that was the plan.

Xi spoke first, calling Biden’s visit a “major event” in the U.S.-China relationship and expressing his desire to work with America “to promote development of relations between our great nations.”

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Follow The White House On Foursquare

WHFSWant to know where Obama is? The White House has joined foursquare. You can now follow the president as he checks in Lower Hannah’s Bend Park, Seed Saver’s Exchange and, most recently, Northeast Iowa Community College. Via Information Week:

The White House has joined the Foursquare location-based social networking service, a move that shows again the Obama administration’s support of a more transparent and tech-savvy federal government.

Users of the service–which allows people to virtually “check in” to various businesses, landmarks, and other locations around the globe–can now use the White House Foursquare page to follow President Obama as he travels and uses the service to let people know where he is, according to a White House blog post.

They also can themselves check in to the White House if they are visiting the presidential home or attending an Obama town hall event. The White House also has elected to use the tips feature, which can recommend places the president has visited and share what he did while he was there.

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Russian Firm Reveals Plan To Build Hotel In Space

768px-Earth_&_Mir_(STS-71)Looking for a real getaway? It sounds more sci-fi than real, but outer space may be a future vacation spot. Daily Mail reports:

Russia yesterday announced plans for a hotel in orbit 217 miles up which would house seven guests in four cabins and have huge windows for views of the Earth turning below.

Just getting there will be an adventure in itself – it will take two days aboard a Soyuz rocket – and it won’t exactly be a budget holiday: A five day stay will cost you £100,000, on top of £500,000 for your journey.

The hotel, or the Commercial Space  Station to give it its proper name, is due to open by 2016 and, according to those behind it, will be ‘far more comfortable’ than the International Space Station used by astronauts and cosmonauts.

In the weightlessness of space, visitors can choose to have beds that are either vertical or horizontal, while showers will be sealed affairs to stop water going where it shouldn’t (those aboard the International Space Station must make do with sponge baths until they return home).

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