Wednesday, June 26, 2013

gay flamingos adopt baby

A pair of gay flamingos have become foster parents after taking an abandoned chick under their wings.
Carlos and Fernando had been so desperate to start a family that they had resorted to stealing eggs at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
But their egg-sitting and hatching skills impressed staff so much that when one of the flamingo nests was abandoned last week, they were considered the number one choice to adopt the chick.
The unhatched egg was taken to an incubator where it was warmed up and monitored.
Hours later a healthy chick emerged, but staff were concerned that the duo would not bond with the newborn because the process normally begins when the chicks are ‘calling’ them from inside the egg.
So the chick was carefully placed in an old eggshell, which was taped up and returned to the couple’s empty nest.
The pair were soon seen ‘talking’ to the chick inside the egg and a little while later it hatched for a second time - to be greeted by its new parents…

microalgae for energy

 "...the world’s first (building) to have a “bio-reactor facade” – panels filled with algae which produce energy and can cool the interior"

The tiny green algae will play a huge role in determining the future potential of this technology, which aims to provide shade and a renewable fuel source for the experimental apartment.
The BIQ house was built as part of this year’s International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg. With 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, this innovative passive-energy house generates microalgae biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. At the same time, the system integrates additional functionalities such as dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, highlighting the full potential of this technology.
The microalgae used in the facades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors measuring 2,5m x 0,7m. In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-storey residential building. The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management centre where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to be stored and then fermented to generate hot water. arup

abandoned railways become greenways

in manhattan 

green building

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Milky way’s Black Hole Snacks on Hot Gas

The Herschel space observatory has made detailed observations of surprisingly hot gas that may be orbiting or falling towards the supermassive black hole lurking at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation.

“The black hole appears to be devouring the gas,” said Paul Goldsmith, the U.S. project scientist for Herschel at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “This will teach us about how supermassive black holes grow.”

Our galaxy’s black hole is located in a region known as Sagittarius A* — or Sgr A* for short — which is a nearby source of radio waves. The black hole has a mass about four million times that of our sun and lies roughly 26,000 light-years away from our solar system…


Scientists have found a potential building block for life in a Martian meteorite recovered from Antarctica.

Parts of the rock contain rich concentrations of boron, which biochemists suspect played a key role in the development of ribonucleic acid, or RNA.

RNA is a biological molecule, which scientists believe was the stepping stone for life on Earth. It, like deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, which evolved later, can store and transmit information to cells.

What does this mean for Curiosity on the Red Planet? 
(read more: Discovery News)

meteor strike

the ocean floor

human infested waters

how tornadoes form

Phellodon sinclairii, New Zealand

Friday, June 7, 2013

sphincter muscles

I got into an argument with someone last weekend about the number of sphincters in the human body. She (with a PhD in physical therapy who took anatomy) argued that there were only 4, I argued that there were a lot more and about 12 large/primary ones that she should know about.  

"sphincter is an anatomical structure, a circular muscle that normally maintains constriction of a natural body passage or orifice and which relaxes as required by normal physiological functioning. Sphincters are found in many animals; there are over 50 types in the human body, some microscopically small, in particular the millions of precapillary sphincters."

The sphincter pupillae, or pupillary sphincter, belonging to the iris in the eye.
The orbicularis oculi muscle, a muscle around the eye.

The cardia (lower esophageal sphincter), or cardiac sphincter, at the upper portion of the stomach. This sphincter prevents the acidic contents of the stomach from moving upward into the oesophagus.
The pyloric sphincter, at the lower end of the stomach.
The ileocecal sphincter at the junction of the small intestine (ileum) and the large intestine, which functions to limit the reflux of colonic contents back into the ileum.
The sphincter of Oddi, or Glisson's sphincter, controlling secretions from the liverpancreas and gall bladder into the duodenum.
The sphincter urethrae, or urethral sphincter, controlling the exit of urine from the body.
At the anus, there are two sphincters which control the exit of feces from the body (see internal anal sphincter and external anal sphincter). The inner sphincter is involuntary and the outer is voluntary.
The microscopic precapillary sphincters function to control the blood flow into each capillary in response to local metabolic activity.

1031 phages

With deadly new viruses emerging these days in Saudi Arabia and China, it can be hard to imagine that viruses can be good for anything. It’s easy to forget that we are home to trillions–perhaps quadrillions–of viruses on our healthiest days. And, according to a team of California scientists, those viruses are our symbiotic partners, creating a second immune system. These viruses serve as a defensive front-line, keeping bacteria from invading our gut lining and causing deadly infections.
The viruses in question are far less familiar than, say, influenza viruses or Ebola viruses. They are known as bacteriophages, which means “eater of bacteria.” And yet bacteriophages (or phages for short) are vastly more common than viruses that infect humans. They’re more common than all the viruses that infect every animal on Earth. The reason is simple arithmetic: there are far more hosts for phages to multiply in than there are for viruses that infect our own cells. They’re in the ground, in the oceans, under ice, and in the air. By some estimates, there are 1031 phages on Earth. That makes phages the most abundant life form, period.
Read more:natgeo

Sea World. By Alexis Rockman

“Rockman likes to play with our expectations of what’s normal. In the painting called Sea World, an audience watches as a collection of marine animals performs tricks, but the animals are nothing like the killer whales and dolphins we’re used to seeing.
“They’re familiar because of their roles,” says Rockman. “Some of them are familiar from paleontological history. You have a Dunkleosteus, which to me is the most frightening predator in history. It’s a Devonian fish that’s now, luckily for humans, extinct, but it was enormous and very frightening.”
The sea creatures, somehow restored to life in a theme park, hint at a future where cloning makes re-creating extinct animals possible.
“That’s part of his signature style — to make the familiar seem foreign to make our world seem otherworldly,” says Joanna Marsh, curator of the exhibition. And genetic engineering, she says, “is a recurring subject in Rockman’s work.” npr

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ocean Acidification Threatens Baby Squid

by Stephanie Pappas

Squid could be in trouble as the oceans grow more acidic, new researchfinds.
As humans pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans absorb about a third of the greenhouse gas. This buffers terrestrial creatures from even more extreme effects of climate change — without the oceans, Earth’s atmosphere would contain far more than the approximately 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide that it does today. However, the dissolved carbon dioxide makes the oceans more acidic, possibly affecting thousands of marine species.
Squid, it seems, may be among the most vulnerable, with consequences that could trickle through the marine ecosystem. A new study published today (May 31) in the journal PLOS ONE finds that squid raised in more highly acidified ocean water hatch more slowly and are smaller when they hatch than squid raised in ocean water at today’s pH levels…
(read more: Live Science)                         
(photo: Roger Hanlon)


Pangea (a supercontinent that formed roughly 300 million years ago) mapped with contemporary geopolitical borders.

Map by Massimo Pietrobon, full size version here:


Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), also called the manul, is a small wild cat having a broad but patchy distribution in the grasslands and montane steppe of Central Asia. The species is negatively affected by habitat degradation, prey base decline, and hunting, and has therefore been classified as Near Threatened by IUCN since 2002.
Pallas’s cat was named after the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, who first described the species in 1776 under the binomial Felis manul.