Friday, February 23, 2007

This Picture Speaks for Itself

Sacred love? Profane love?
You decide.

An American on picture for full effects.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Calamari Anyone?

New Zealand fishermen have caught what is expected to be a world-record-breaking colossal squid.

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said the squid, weighing an estimated 450kg (990lb),took two hours to land in Antarctic waters.

Local news said the Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni was about 10m (33ft) long, and was the first adult colossal squid landed intact.

One expert said calamari rings made from it would be like tractor tyres.

"I can assure you that this is going to draw phenomenal interest. It is truly amazing," Steve O'Shea from Auckland's University of Technology told local media.

Mr Anderton said the fishermen had been fishing for Patagonian toothfish in deep Antarctic waters when the squid - which was eating a toothfish - was caught.

Infographic, BBC

"The squid was almost dead when it reached the surface, and the careful work of the crew was paramount in getting this specimen aboard in good condition," he said.

The squid was frozen in the ship's hull and brought back to New Zealand for scientific examination.

"The colossal squid has just arrived in New Zealand and it is likely that it is the first intact adult male colossal squid to ever be successfully landed," Mr Anderton said.

Colossal squid, which are found deep in Antarctic waters, are thought to be about the same length as giant squid (Architeutis dux) but are much heavier.

The species was first identified in 1925, but very few specimens have been found.

The first specimen recovered intact, a 150kg (330lb) immature female, was caught on the surface in the Ross Sea near the Antarctic coast in April 2004.

'Nearly dead'

Mr Anderton said the fishermen had been fishing for Patagonian toothfish in deep Antarctic waters when the squid - which was eating a toothfish - was caught.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Sky Is Falling!

Scientists worry an asteroid is getting too close for our comfort

Circle your calendar. April 13th, 2036 could be a really, really bad day on planet Earth.
A group of astronauts and engineers warns that an asteroid may pass uncomfortably close to Earth that day. The chances it will actually hit are just one in 45,000, but even at those odds, the scientists warn, the United Nations should consider a response.

Potential Threat

The scientists met this past weekend in San Francisco to discuss the potential threats asteroids pose to the Earth and what can be done to prevent a possible collision.

Most feared is Apophis, a large asteroid that will pass within 10,000 miles of Earth around 2029 and even closer in 2036.

Dr. Dan Barry, a retired astronaut, told ABC News, "Even if the probability is low of an asteroid hitting Earth, if it has the potential to have a significant impact, then it has to be looked at. It is the absolutely responsible thing to do. In fact, it would be irresponsible not to do so."

Barry said more research is needed so that when a potentially dangerous asteroid is found, there is a plan in place. He said it is therefore important to start the search for asteroids now, to allow enough time to effectively deal with them.

Scientists believe that if advance warnings of dangerous asteroids like Apophis can be made decades in advance, there will be enough time to try and knock them off course.

Suddenly, Bruce Willis on a mission to stop a devastating asteroid from destroying Earth, as he did in the movie "Armageddon," does not seem as far-fetched.

What Are The Solutions?

Nobody knows for sure what it would take to push a massive asteroid off its course, but the theoretical possibilities include detonating weapons on an asteroid's surface or using gravitational pull to alter a possible collision course.

But it could also break an asteroid into many pieces, all still headed toward Earth.

Some scientists say a better option could be to launch a large satellite to rendezvous with an asteroid. The mass of the satellite alone could produce enough gravitational pull to change the asteroid's course.

Another suggestion is to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid in the hopes of changing its direction.

"Done far enough away, only a small deflection would be needed and it is kept in one piece," said Barry.

In 1996, NEAR became the first spacecraft launched by NASA to orbit and land on an asteroid. The purpose of the mission was to determine the asteroid's mass, structure, gravity and magnetic field. Scientists hoped this important information would help them understand asteroids.

So, while astronauts blowing up an asteroid may be movie fiction for now, scientists are already thinking about how to save Earth from a massive asteroid possibly on its way.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Fish Story

Genetic identification may sort honest from fishy catches

You only thought you were eating flounder!

Tons of catfish from China pile up in Los Angeles warehouses until a Gainesville food-testing laboratory decides what they are.

A New York DNA lab that mainly analyzes research mice is now testing restaurant fish for newspaper and television stations all over the country. About 60 percent of the samples turn out to be fakes.

A Canadian university is building a genetic database of every animal species on earth. Eventually, restaurant diners might insert a sliver of today's "fresh catch" into a handheld device that can tell if it's grouper or $2-a-pound catfish.

These days, the seafood business has moved well beyond fried vs. broiled. Fortunes can rise or fall on proper identification of what people are eating.

Genetic testing, which zeros in on a minute strip of DNA, has become the gold standard for separating honesty and deception.

"It's the most important thing to come along in a long time," said Bob Jones, executive director of the Southeastern Fisheries Association, a trade group long frustrated by seafood substitution.

Until recently, a cooked piece of fish, slathered in sauce, could not be traced. Genetic testing can lift the veil, Jones said.

"It tells the public that there is a problem beyond anyone's belief."

Sneaking in catfish

For years, buffet lines and Sunday socials have exploited the inexpensive virtues of Southern catfish.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Inspired by Farmer

The Hiawatha Belt

This belt may be the oldest. It represents the first United Nations agreement, the first time in history anywhere on the globe where independent nations were able to join together under a unified government that allowed individual customs and governments of member nations. Prior to this idea, throughout the world's history in all places and times, national growth was by conquest and forced subjection -- empire growth. This belt memorialized Haudaunosee, League of the Pine Tree (center) or Great Peace, of the 5 original Iroquois Nations, who became the 6 Nations after they received fleeing southern Tuscarora into the League.

The League was formed to create a lasting peace and a just method of settling disputes and for international diplomacy with non-member tribes some time before European contact, perhaps 1,000 years ago. At the time of the invaders' arrival, it had begun to grow very slowly. Despite the disruptions and death caused by the invasion, it still exists. The idea of peaceful federation influenced the formation of the federation that was the United States. The idea of a peaceful, cooperative over-govenment, uniting disparate but still sovereign (for local issues, customs, and government) nations and populations is the most important contribution of indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere to others of the world today, though today this idea is not well understood and is only poorly and weakly practiced in the current United Nations Organization. In the orally memorized documentation establishing the League, war weapons -- clubs, tomahawks -- were cast into a pit under the Great Tree's roots (giving rise to our contemporary expression "bury the hatchet"). The vigilant eagle at the top will watch for dangers to the League and the peace.

The original League was the 5 first Iroquoian Nations. Onandaga were (are) Firekeepers and wampum-keepers and are represented as in the center, "Under the Pine Tree" where meetings were held, at their town. Mohawks (Kanienkehake, People of the Flint) are represented as the Eastern Door; Seneca as the Western Door. Oneida and Cayuga are the two central squares. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations -- archived in World History archives -- is a detailed recording which was memorized, recited regularly, and recorded on wampum belts. There are several different translations or interpretations of this constitution. A small book of one which was worked out with elders of the 6 Nations (Tusacarora refugees joined the League at the end of the 18th century) was published in English by Akwesasne Notes in 1972.