Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chile Begins Drilling Rescue Shaft

Special Drill from Australia
  Engineers in Chile have begun drilling the rescue shaft through which they hope to eventually free the 33 men trapped in a collapsed gold mine. The miners have been stuck 700m (2,300ft) underground for the past three weeks. Officials say it could take up to four months for the tunnel to be completed and the men to be winched out. Some of the miners have developed fungal infections and body sores in the hot conditions underground.

A huge Australian-made "Strata 950" excavator began work late on Monday evening. The rescue shaft is likely to take 90 to 120 days to complete. Once finished to a width of about 60cm, a capsule will be lowered down so the miners can be hauled out one-by-one. Mining Minister Laurence Golborne had said up to 10 options were being considered in the efforts to rescue the men. But he dismissed suggestions that the men could be out within a month, saying: "Up to now there is no alternative... that would allow us to get them out in 30 days."
On Sunday, the miners were each able to speak to family members for one minute by telephone. Alicia Campos, said she broke down as she said goodbye to her son, Daniel Herrero, promising him she would see him again.
"His voice is the same. He's not good, but not so bad either," she said.
Jessica Chille said speaking to her husband, Dario Segovia, had been "a balm to my heart".

The men are trapped in a refuge chamber of the mine, where they managed to take shelter after a rock collapse on 5 August.  Rescue workers have been using narrow shafts to send essential supplies to the trapped men, and ensure they have adequate ventilation. One of the men has some medical training and has been able to give his colleagues vaccinations against tetanus. They will be sent flu vaccinations later this week.
Quick-dry clothing has also been sent down, after some of the miners said they were suffering from skin conditions in the hot, wet conditions. Others have been sent mats to sleep on to protect them from the damp ground. They have also been sent mp3 players to listen to music and a small screen, so they can watch football matches.

The drill will first make a pilot shaft and then widen it out sufficiently for a rescue capsule to be lowered Four experts from Nasa are due to arrive at the mine this week at the request of the Chilean authorities, to advise the miners and rescuers on how to cope with their situation. The team includes a doctor, nutritionist, and engineer and a psychologist. NASA deputy chief medical officer Michael Duncan said that while the environment was different to that experienced by astronauts, "the human response in "physiology, behaviour, responses to emergencies is quite similar".
"We think that some of the things we learned in research and operation can be adaptable to the miners who are trapped under the ground," he said.
Mr Duncan praised the responses of the miners and officials, saying they appeared to be well organised.
"They have done a lot for the miners, and in fact the miners have done a lot for themselves underground," he said.

The men are living in unbearable conditions, that would drive most sane people mad,  but they are cheerful  and encouraging to their families. What brave men they are. I know we all hope they are rescued safely and much sooner than estimated.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Was Darwin Wrong ? An Alternative Theory Emerges

Until now, Charles Darwin's concept of survival of the fittest and natural selection has been considered  the key to the evolution of all living things.
But a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol England and published in Biology Letters suggests "living space," not competition between species , is responsible  for evolutionary patterns throughout history.
Using fossils to focus on land animals , the research team suggests that  animals have survived more easily in favorable environments that offered more food and less chance of being hunted and eaten by other animals.
At Yale University in Connecticut , evolutionary  biologist Stephen Stearns isn't convinced by the study findings.
"they have an interesting pattern , but I think they misinterpreted it.  basically, what they show is that a lot of evolution is driven by organisms  moving into new roles or  onto land or  into new areas , and they argue  that's evidence that competition is not so important," Stearns said.
Stearns, the author of "The Evolution of Life Histories"  ( Oxford, 1992 ) says it doesn't make  sense for animals to just pack up and move from one environment to another . "Why would they move if everything  was comfortable where they were ? So, competition probably is one of the things that drove them into the new environment," he said. 
"It's a trade-off: Should I stay here and deal with what I've got  here, or should I go somewhere else  ? Well, going somewhere else  is always a  challenge,  because  wherever you have been, you're always pretty well adapted to that , and for the only reason to go somewhere else is if the conditions here are deteriorating."
One of the authors of the British study, Mike Benton, told the BBC that "competition  did not play a big role in the overall pattern of evolution."
"Even though mammals lived beside dinosaurs for 60 million years, they were not able to out-compete the dominant reptules. But when the dinosaurs went extinct, mammals quickly filled the empty niches they left and today, mammals dominate the land." But Stearns says the pattern the British researches have documented isn't sufficient evidence  to determine what actually caused  the pattern.
Overtime , he said , "conditions are probably going to  be deteriorating because other organisms are evolving to be better  at extracting resources from your environment than you are , or they're evolving to be better at eating you. "I think they overinterpreted their results when they claimed that they can conclude  that competition wasn't driving it. 
Stearns explains the concept of "living space" doesn't only relate to a location or a physical place where animals live.
When you're talking about 'living space,' it's not really geography - it's like, what role do you play in the community ? You can't really have squirrels until you have trees. That's what they mean by 'living space.' While Stearns and the British researchers  don't see eye to eye, he welcomes the study because it fuels scientific debate. And because evolution is an ongoing , long process, he believes the study will add to scientific knowledge.
It will have a standard academic impact, and there  will be some critical commentary and other people  will see if they can actually replicate the results - scientists  don't usually believe a result until it's been independently replicated, and that hasn't happen yet.
Just a thought : "After it has been criticized and sifted and we know what parts of it stand up , it might become the textbook for evolution . But surely Darwin can't be all wrong.
 Why can't the two theories co-exist? Why can't evolution be a cocktail of cicrcumstances like everything else on earth? Some from column A and some from column B.

Man Has Lived Without Money SInce 2008

If a serious person puts their money where their mouth is then Mark Boyle is the world's most serious man.
Inspired by Gandhi's famous words to be the change you wish to see in the world, the economics graduate from the U.K. has been living entirely without money since 2008. He has written a book about the experience titled 'The Moneyless Man:  A Year of Freeconomic Living' in order to share both the philosophy which led to his drastic decision and the tactics he has used to survive.

Living in a trailer given to him for free by someone on freecycle.org, Boyle cooks food which he either grows himself, barters for or forages from the land. He bathes in a solar shower, uses a compost toilet and even makes his own paper. Despite his challenging lifestyle, Boyle has no plans to return to civilzation. He says the time he has spent away from money has been the happiest of his life.
I'm sure Mark is telling the absolute truth. When you have no money you're free. You have few responsibilites, no bills to pay, no one to answer to; obviously no taxes and you don't have maintenance and upkeep on property.You also don't have to worry about neighbors or doing any kind of service for your community.
 All of this changes though if you get sick or need a root canal or it gets extremely cold or if you can't find a meal. What if you can't park your trailer for free anywhere? And what if you needed some intellectual stimulation and you couldn't even afford a library card? What if you meet someone you care for? Would you wish your lifestyle on her or on any children she might have by you?
This is a life best lived completely alone. And as long as you follow it, that's how you'll remain; alone.

Thousands Flee as Volcano Erupts For the First Time in Over 400 Years

 Thousands of Indonesians were evacuated from the slopes of a volcano on Sunday after it erupted for the first time in more than 400 years, spewing out lava and sending smoke and dust 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) into the air.
Mount Sinabung, in the north of the island of Sumatra, began erupting around midnight after rumbling for several days, prompting some villagers to panic before the mass evacuation got under way. Indonesia is on the so-called Pacific Rim of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and geological fault lines triggering frequent earthquakes around the Pacific Basin. The eruption triggered the highest red volcano alert.

"This is the first time since 1600 that Sinabung has erupted and we have little knowledge in terms of its eruptive patterns," said Surono, head of Indonesia's vulcanology center. Authorities took at least 12,000 people from high risk areas on the slopes of the 2,460-meter volcano to temporary shelters. Local TV showed showed women and children wearing face masks in cramped tents.
"Since this is the first eruption we've had in Sinabung, we're anticipating residents to remain at the shelters for at least a week while waiting for further status alert," said Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman at the national disaster management agency.
Residents panicked when the volcano started erupting overnight and some of them who live in safer areas chose to take refuge at shelters, Kardono added. The area around the volcano is largely agricultural.
The eruption has not damaged roads or bridges. The nearest big city is Medan where there were no disruptions to flights.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Expedition to Titanic Site Creates 3D map of Wreck

These are some of the first images sent back from the expedition 

The bow of the Titanic at rest on the bottom of the North Atlantic, about 400 miles southeast of Newfoundland.

Sonar image of the Titanic and the debris field.
A team of scientists launched  an expedition to the Titanic on August 18th to assess the deteriorating condition of the world's most famous shipwreck and create a detailed three-dimensional map that will “virtually raise the Titanic” for the public. The expedition to the site four kilometres beneath the North Atlantic is billed as the most advanced scientific mission to the Titanic wreck since its discovery 25 years ago.
The 20-day expedition  left St. John's, Newfoundland on Aug. 18, in partnership with RMS Titanic Inc., which has exclusive salvage rights to the wreck, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. The expedition will not collect artifacts but will probe a 3-by-5 kilometre debris field where hundreds of thousands of artifacts remain scattered. Only about 50% of the debris field has ever been examined.
Some of the world's most frequent visitors to the site are part of the expedition along with a who's who of underwater scientists and organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Organizers say the new scientific data and images will ultimately all be accessible to the public.
“For the first time, we're really going to treat it as an archaeological site with two things in mind,” David Gallo, an expedition leader and Woods Hole scientist said. “One is to preserve the legacy of the ship by enhancing the story of the Titanic itself. The second part is to really understand what the state of the ship is.”

Since oceanographer Robert Ballard and an international team discovered the Titanic in 1985, most of the expeditions have either been to photograph the wreck or gather thousands of artifacts, like fine china, shoes and ship fittings. “Titanic” director James Cameron has also led teams to the wreck to record the bow and the stern, which separated during the sinking and now lie one-third of a mile apart. RMS Titanic made the last expedition to the site in 2004. The company, a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions Inc. of Atlanta, conducts traveling displays of the Titanic artifacts, which the company says have been viewed by tens of millions of people worldwide. The “dream team” of archaeologists, oceanographers and other scientists want to get the best assessment yet on the two main sections of the ship, which have been subjected to fierce deep-ocean currents, salt water and intense pressure.

Mr. Gallo said while the rate of Titanic's deterioration is not known, the expedition approaches the mission with a sense of urgency.
“We see places where it looks like the upper decks are getting thin, the walls are thin, the ceilings may be collapsing a bit,” he said. “We hear all these anecdotal things about the ship is rusting away, it's collapsing on itself. No one really knows.”
The expedition is using imaging technology and sonar devices that never have been used before on the Titanic wreck and to probe nearly a century of sediment in the debris field to seek a full inventory of the ship's artifacts.
“We're actually treating it like a crime scene,” Mr. Gallo said. “We want to know what's out there in that debris field, what the stern and the bow are looking like.”
“Never before have we had the scientific and technological means to discover so much on an expedition to Titanic,” said P.H. Nargeolet, who is co-leading the expedition. He has made more than 30 dives to the wreck.

Bill Lange, a Woods Hole scientist who is  leading the optical survey and one of the first to visit the wreck, said a key analysis will be comparing images from the first expedition 25 years ago and new images to measure decay and erosion.
“We're going to see things we haven't seen before. That's a given,” he said. “The technology has really evolved in the last 25 years.”
“I'm sure there will be future expeditions because this is the just the beginning of a whole new era of these kind of expeditions to Titanic – serious, archaeological mapping expeditions,” said Mr. Gallo .

Pictures from the 2004 expedition

Friday, August 27, 2010

Scientists Discover Pea-Sized Frog In Borneo

Scientists in Borneo don't need to kiss this frog - he's already their little prince charming .Researches say they've found a new kind of frog that might be the smallest such amphibian outside the Americas.
The pea-sized frog , dubbed Microhyla nepenticola , measures between 10.6 and 12.8 millimeters in length, making it small enough to live insides puddles that accumulate in picter plants in the forests of the Southeast Asian island.
Some frogs eat flies . This tiny amphibian is not much bigger than one. The Microhyla nepenthicola , a newly discovered speices of frog, lives in  the jungle  on the island of Borneo in Malaysia. It is barely larger than a pea.
Despite the frog's small size , Robin Moore , amphibian conservation officer with  Conservation Internatoinal , says the tiny speices represents a big scientific discovery.
"Such small speices are very interesting because  they're really reached the boundaries of what is possible in the animal world," Moore said. "These are some of the smallest tetrapods - or four-legged organisms - in the world."
"There sized is very interesting from an evolutionary point of view," Moore added. "what it allows these frogs to do is ex[loit new habitats. In this case , the miniature frogs use their small size to live inside a pitcher plant - a kind of flora that feeds off of decomposing organic matter it collects inside a picter-shaped chalice.
The frogs lay their eggs on the plant, and the tadpoles mature in puddles inside the plant's pitcher. While the plant provides a safe habitat for the frogs, its unclear  what, it anything , the tiny amphibians give back to their botanical abode.
"I'm  not sure if [the pitcher plant ] is getting much out of it , but maybe the tadpoles or the frogs are excerting things into the water that the plant is using as a food source," Moore speculated.
Just a handful of speices of frogs are thought to be smaller , such as the Brazil's gold frog and Cuba's Eleutherodactylus iberia. And this newfound frog is the smallest animal in the  Old World , the researches wrote in an article in Zootaxa (PDF)
The diminutive frogs are so tiny they were  once overlooked  bt scientists.
Lead researcher Indraneil das told The Christian Science  Monitor  that scientists had actually discovered the frog more than 100 years ago  but "presumably thought they were juveniles of other speices," Thankfully , for Das, these  puny frogs happen to have big vouces.
das and his research partner , Alexander Hass , were in Kubah National Park when they heard the  tiny frogs making calls (listen here ) a behavior only exhibited by adult frogs.
 Das eventually trapped one  specimen in a clean white daiper he had brought  along for his baby son, acording to the New York Post.
"It's a call that actually gave it away," Moore said.
My spin : Scientists are  finding new speices all the time, so lets help put  a halt to global warming  to save the speices we have and the ones that's being discovered each day....we are have a part to play in this game....but hey, that's just me.
Kicking back and keeping it real .

Duffy's Cut : Pennsylvania Ghost Story Leads to A Murder Mystery

Researchers work (Aug. 2) at the site of a mass grave for immigrant  Irish railroed workers in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Janet Monge, an Authropologist from the University of Pennsylvania  examines bones and items taken from the Duffy's Cut mass grave.

A human skull with a hole in  it was discovered at Duffy's Cut mass grave.

(August 25 ) - Anthropologists and historians in Philadelphia's suburban Main Line are unearthing  a mass grave  containing the remains of dozens of Irish workers who died nearly two centueies ago. The find, called TheDuffy's cut Project  started out as an investigation into local folklore and ghost stories . It has since  transformed not only into a significant historical find but als , perhaps, one  of the oldest murder mysteries in the Keystone  State.
" All the remains, so far, indicate  [ the men ] were brutally murdered ,"  said William Watson , head of the history department of Immaculata University in Immaculata , PA. "Some of them were just bludgeoned to death. It's unbelievable,"  Watson said.
"Duffy's Cut ," as it's known, is a stretch of rail line  in Malvern, Pa. 30 miles west of Philadelphia . It was constructed for the Philadelphia  and Columbia  Railroad in 1832. Much of the construction  was  completed by a group of 57 Irish immigrants from Donegal, Tyrone and Derry, Ireland, who arrived in  June 1832 aboard the ship John Stamp.
"They came here to partake of the American dream," Watson said. "No doubt, they thought they were going to get some good work, and they were hired right off the docks by a fellow Irishman named Philip Duffy, who came in around the War of 1812. He basically brought them out here to complete the most expensive and difficult mile in the entire Philadelphia and Columbia system."

Within eight weeks of their arrival, all 57 reportedly died during a cholera pandemic. The dead were buried together in a mass grave along Duffy's Cut. The fate of the men who lost their lives were all but forgotten by  the time Watson  and his twin brothe , the Rev. Frank Watson were born. By then, the story  of the men's deaths had transformed into  more of a local legend.
The Watsons' grandfather had worked for the Pennsylvania  Railroad and was knowledgeable about the tales.  His ghost stories included an account of a man who, in the years following the incident, claimed he was walking along the tracks when he saw  ghosts dancing on top of the Irish workers graves.
Following the death of their grandfather, the brothers inherited a box of old railroad files. When they were going through them together in 1992 , they found documents from 1909  that contained contextual evidence of the deaths  and the approximate location of the mass grave.
"It was  one of those things that had to be investigated ," Watson said. "We started looking to see if there was any reality behind the dimly remembered stuff , so we began looking into Pennsylvania  archives and fleshed  it out even further."

By 2004, the Watson twins had assembled  enough documented evidence  of the deaths to have a historical marker placed on the site.
" Nearby is the mass grave of 57 Irish workers who died in August, 1832, of cholera," the marker reads."They had  recently arrived in the United States and were employed by a construction  contracter named Duffy ... Prejudice against Irish Catholics contributed to the denial of care to the workers. Their illness and death typified the hazards faced by many 19-century immigrant industrial workers."

In 2007, geophysicist Timothy Bechtel  agreed to help . He brought with him a sophisticated  ground penetrating radarsystem, which literally allowed the team to X-ray the soil in surrounding area.
"[Bechtel] found something in 2008," Watson said.  "Bechtel said you guys should dig here and in March 2009, we were able to find the  first set of [humans] remains  very precisely , [thanks to] his science]."
Janet Monge , an anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania , has identified four human skulls and bones from seven skeletons. Those skeletons , however , suggest something other than a cholera pandemic may have claimed the men's lives. "Skeleton number 6 looks like it has a bullet hole in it, and we  have very good indications of blunt-force trauma to the others,"Said Monge.

As a result of the brothers' research and the evidence  found upon the skeletal remains , the Watsons suspect local vigilantes killed most of the workers.
"The fact is , they were murdered," Watson said. "In the first layer of burials , we suspect most of the men are going to be victims of cholera , which leaves no physical traces. But we believed others were killed to make sure there would be no cholera getting out of that valley."
"We have a cemetery to take them to, which is really perfect because where they are now is essentially a dumping ground," Watson said. "It is West Laurel  Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, just outside of  where the Victorian elite  of Philadelphia  are buried.
"We have to dig them up ," Watson said. It is very hard work  - we are kind of doing the same kind of work the men themselves did in 1832 - but they deserve to have their story told."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New solar System Looks Much Like Home

Astronomers have discovered a new solar system 127 light years away that is tantalisingly similar to our own. The newly discovered solar system may contain the largest number of planets ever found orbiting another star. The star HD 10180, is orbited by up to seven planets in a regular pattern, making it similar to our own solar system.  
The team used observations from the European Southern Observatory (Eso) in Chile to find five Neptune-like planets orbiting a Sun-like star called HD 10180. The planets are closer to their star than Mars is to the Sun.
They also have some evidence that two more planets might be in the star system, one of which would have the lowest mass of any extrasolar planet ever found. If the existence of these two additional planets is confirmed, the discoveries would make the HD 10180 solar system very similar to our own, with seven planets (to our eight) and a regular pattern of orbits.
"We have found what is most likely the system with the most planets yet discovered," said Christophe Lovis of the University of Geneva in Switzerland. "This remarkable discovery also highlights the fact that we are now entering a new era in exoplanet research: the study of complex planetary systems and not just of individual planets. Studies of planetary motions in the new system reveal complex gravitational interactions between the planets and give us insights into the long-term evolution of the system."

The five gas giants are between 13 and 25 times as massive as the Earth and take between six and 600 days to orbit the star, writes Lovis in a paper published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
One of the two as-yet-unconfirmed planets is likely to be similar to Saturn, with a minimum mass of around 65 Earths and an orbit of 2,200 days. The other planet would be the least massive exoplanet ever discovered, say astronomers, with a mass around 1.4 times that of the Earth.
The similarities end there, however. The rocky planet is likely to orbit very close to its star – just 2% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. A single "year" on this planet would last only 1.18 Earth days.

Scientists have confirmed the existence of 15 "extrasolar systems" that have at least three planets and the previous record-holder was 55 Cancri, which has five planets in orbit around it.
The latest discovery was announced today at an international meeting at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence in France. Lovis and his team used six years of measurements from the Harps spectrograph at Eso's 3.6m telescope in La Silla, Chile, to scrutinise the Sun-like star HD 10180, which is in the southern constellation of Hydrus. Astronomers can detect the tiny gravity-induced wobbles in the position of stars that have planets orbiting them.
Damien S├ęgransan, who worked on the project with Lovis, said that the mystery rocky planet caused a wobble in the star's motion "of only about 3 km/hour – slower than walking speed – and this motion is very hard to measure". The astronomers used an instrument called HARPS, which is capable of measuring very accurate spectra.The astronomers collected 190 data points on this system over a six year period.

The discovery of this solar system will help astronomers understand the dynamics and formation of planetary systems.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Susan Boyle to Sing for the Pope

Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle says it's a dream come true:
Although she was only a runner-up in the competition, Susan Boyle is to sing for Pope Benedict XVI next month.  She  will perform at an open-air mass in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, on 16 September.
‘To be able to sing for the Pope is a great honour and something I've always dreamed of - it's indescribable,' says Susan, 49.
‘My faith is the backbone of my life, I pray and say the rosary each day and am very close to my religion. I am humbled and honoured by this invitation and I hope I can do my best.'

Susan will perform 3 times during the event.She will sing I Dreamed A Dream and the hymn How Great Thou Art to kick off the event, join an 800-strong choir during the mass and perform a farewell solo song to bring the service to an end.
 It seems all Susan's dreams are coming true. Coming from a very modest, quiet life in a small village in Scotland, suddenly she is being given the world and she is now handling it very well. She had a little emotional breakdown at the start of her rocketing career. She could not handle the hectic schedule and all the attendant public attention but she seems to have all her ducks in a row now. Enjoy Susie.

Elin's Interview With People Mag....."I've Been Through Hell"

After nine months, Elin Nordegren has broken her silence on the infidelity scandal that rocked her family and led to the dissolution of her marriage to golf star Tiger Woods. In what she says will be a one-time-only discussion of her side of the story, Nordegren spoke with People magazine for 19 hours over four days. The revelations were sobering, and in some cases surprising.

The three key takeaways from Nordegren's story are:
• She says she is in no way a violent person, calling any speculation that she swung a golf club at Woods on Thanksgiving night "ridiculous."
• She was completely broadsided by the news of Woods' extramarital affairs, believing that she was the only woman in his life. In short, she was as surprised as most of the rest of the world that the persona Woods put forth – dedicated competitor, family man – was a carefully constructed sham. "I'm so embarassed that I never suspected [his affairs] – not a one," she said.
• In line with that, she said she believed fully that her relationship with Woods was a real marriage, not an act orchestrated for cameras and sponsors. "The word betrayal is just not strong enough," she told People. "I have been through the stages of disbelief and shock to anger and ultimately grief over the loss of the family I so badly wanted for my children."
Woods, who will be playing in this weekend's Barclays Championship in New Jersey, has not yet commented on Nordegren's interview. Clearly, however, she plans on him being in the picture as the father of her children – daughter Sam, 3, and son Charlie, 19 months – as she didn't scorch the earth with her comments. She declined to go into more detail about the events of Thanksgiving, and she would not comment on the size of her divorce settlement – rumored to be in excess of $100 million – except to indicate that it is substantial enough that she won't have to work initially and will be able to focus on raising her children.

The People magazine article gives the impression that Nordegren is both very aware of her celebrity – perhaps infamy – as the aggrieved wife, and also very understanding of the fact that she is something of a punch line for gaining so much money in the divorce settlement. As such, she intends to remain a private person and has no intention of being a celebrity – refreshing in an age where everyone who nabs a single headline is rushing to sign a reality-TV or talk show deal.
Most surprisingly, throughout all the drama of the Woods scandal, Nordegren quietly spent time as a humble college student, taking night classes in pursuit of a psychology degree. According to her, she's 40 credits short of a bachelor's degree in psychology, and hopes to follow that with a master's and, at some point in the future, work as a therapist herself. Perhaps fittingly, she took a clinical approach to her own healing, facing it directly and without shame in regular, intensive therapy sessions.
"My immediate plan is for the kids and me to continue to adjust to ournew situation," she said. "I am going to keep taking classes, but my main focus isto try to give myself time to heal."

As for the future, she plans to raise the children in South Florida, near a home she and Woods have been building in Jupiter. So it seems she intends for him to remain a part of her life in some capacity; indeed, the article begins with Woods arriving home with the children during the interview and surprising Elin, who reacts with kindness and respect.  For now, this will close Elin Nordegren's side of the story. Clearly, though, this will follow her and her family throughout their lives. Tiger damaged a lot of lives with his thoughtless, selfish behavior. His children will bear the brunt of it.
The issue of People featuring Elin Nordegren on the cover will be available  starting Friday.

Oil Spill Being Eaten by Microbes

Petroleum-eating microbes have significantly reduced the gulf oil plume. The Gulf of Mexico ecosystem was ready and waiting for something like the Deepwater Horizon blowout and seems to have made the most of it, a new scientific study suggests. Petroleum-eating bacteria - which had dined for eons on oil seeping naturally through the seafloor - proliferated in the cloud of oil that drifted underwater for months after the April 20 accident. They not only outcompeted fellow microbes, they each ramped up their own internal metabolic machinery to digest the oil as efficiently as possible.

The result was a nature-made cleanup crew capable of reducing the amount of oil in the undersea "plume" by half about every three days, according to research published online Tuesday by the journal Science.  The findings, by a team of scientists led by Terry C. Hazen of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, help explain one of the biggest mysteries a mystery of the disaster: Where has all the oil gone?
"What we know about the degradation rates fits with what we are seeing in the last three weeks," Hazen said. "We've gone out to the sites, and we don't find any oil, but we do find the bacteria."

The species dominating the digestion of the oil is a newly discovered one, Hazen said.  The findings point to a different conclusion from that drawn by readers of a study published last week, also in the journal Science. That research by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute found no reduction in the oxygen content of the gigantic oil plume, suggesting that microbes were consuming the oil very slowly.

The Berkeley team study published Tuesday also indicates indirectly that dispersants used to break the wellhead stream of oil into a mass of submicroscopic particles might have speeded the cleanup. By increasing the surface area between oil and water, the dispersants seem to have provided the deep-sea microbes greater access to this unusual food source.

Alan Mearns, a senior staff scientist in the emergency response of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, called the Berkeley team study "critical to the understanding of the fate of what remains in the Gulf. This study shows that microbes are quickly degrading some components of subsurface oil found in the deep ocean without creating hazardous dead zones."

Some of the spill's 206 million gallons of oil has come ashore, some has sunk into bottom sediments, and a little is still a floating froth. But the mile-wide, 650-foot-high oil cloud of oil that for months drifted 4,000 feet underwater seems to have disappeared in the six weeks since the well was plugged. I'm hoping this is a very good sign for the ecology of the gulf.  Sometimes nature has an amazing capacity to recover.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tiger's Divorce Official....Couple Makes Statement

And so, after nine months of turmoil over his extramarital affairs, now begins the next chapter in the life and times of Tiger Woods. In a hearing that lasted no more than 10 minutes in a Florida judge's chambers, Woods and his Swedish-born wife officially divorced Monday.
"We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future," Woods and Elin Nordegren said in a joint statement released by their lawyers.

The divorce was granted shortly after 2 p.m. in Bay County Circuit Court in Panama City, Fla., about 600 kilometres from their Isleworth home outside Orlando, where Woods drove his SUV over a fire hydrant and into a tree on Thanksgiving night. That set off shocking revelations that sports' biggest star had been cheating on his wife through multiple affairs. Woods' life and golf game have been in disarray ever since.

He and Nordegren were married Oct. 5, 2004, in Barbados and have a three-year-old daughter, Sam, and an 18-month-old son, Charlie. Terms of the divorce — such as how much it will cost Woods — were not disclosed. They said only that they will "share parenting" of their two children.
Although no terms were released, Elin likely will receive a nine-figure sum, probably less than the eye-popping $750 million that some reports predicted. In exchange, she almost certainly has agreed to a non-disclosure clause that prohibits comments, interviews, books and any other detailing of Tiger’s personal life.

The divorce was finalized by Bay County Circuit Judge Judy Pittman Biebel during a 10-minute hearing in a conference room in her chambers, according to Biebel's judicial assistant, Kim Gibson. Woods and Nordegren were present, along with their lawyers, Gibson said.
Nordegren's lawyers — She employed six different attorneys from three different cities on two continents: McGuireWoods attorneys Richard Cullen and Dennis I. Belcher in Richmond, Va., Scott S. Cairns in Jacksonville, Fla., and Walter H. White Jr. and Josefin Lonnborg ( her twin sister)  in London, who were assisted by Rebecca Palmer of Pa. — referred all questions to the statement. Elin is no dummy; she lawyered up really good.

 Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, declined to comment when asked if the couple had a prenuptial agreement or terms of the settlement. "We're not commenting beyond what was in the release," he said. Tiger, meanwhile, hired two separate law firms – one in Florida, one in Connecticut.

Nordegren, who once worked as a nanny for Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik, asked to have her maiden name restored as Elin Maria Pernilla Nordegren.
The sordid sex scandal cost Woods three major corporate sponsors — Accenture, AT&T and Gatorade — worth millions of dollars, and he lost his stature the gold standard in sports endorsements. A month after the scandal became public, Woods spent two months in therapy at a Mississippi clinic with hopes of saving his marriage.
"While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us," they said in the statement. "The weeks and months ahead will not be easy for them as we adjust to a new family situation, which is why our privacy must be a principal concern."
Some of the court documents indicated that Woods had to focus on his marital woes as well as his golf this summer. He twice went to in-patient therapy in an effort to save the nuptials. He staged an awkward, apologetic news conference, starred in a tacky, lecturing Nike commercial with the voice of his dead father and tried to shake off heckling airplane taunts and endless late-night comic fodder.

He completed a four-hour course on "Parent Education and Family Stabilization" on July 10, the day before he left to play the British Open. He had won the previous two times at St. Andrews by a combined 13 shots, but this time finished 13 shots behind in a tie for 23rd.
The couple signed a marital settlement agreement on July 3 and July 4, the weekend of the AT&T National outside Philadelphia, where Woods failed to break par in a PGA Tour event for the first time in 11 years.

Nordegren completed her four-hour program through FloridaParentingClass.com on Aug. 16, the day after Woods tied for 28th in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. It was the first time in nearly seven years he had finished out of the top 20 in consecutive majors. Woods is to play this week at The Barclays, his first tournament as a single man in nearly six years. He needs a good performance just to get out of the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs, which he won the previous two times he played, and he also is trying to show he is worth picking for the Ryder Cup, where wives take on a visible role.

Since returning to golf at the Masters, Woods has not come close to winning a tournament. He tied for fourth in the Masters and in the U.S. Open, both times taking himself out of contention early in the final round.
One example of how the impending divorce has affected him came last month when he played in a charity pro-am in Ireland, which ended on Tuesday. Instead of staying overseas to practice on links courses, Woods flew home to Florida for six days to see his children and then returned to Scotland for the British Open.
Woods has won 82 times worldwide — 36 times and six majors while married — in his professional career. His last victory came at the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, his last trip before his serial infidelity was uncovered.
  Tiger clearly needs to turn the page. His putting, once the strength of his game, has deteriorated badly – perhaps the sign of a lack of concentration and playing time. Suddenly Woods’ chances of breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major championships (Tiger has 14), once a sure-bet, have dimmed considerably. His ability to intimidate other golfers has dissipated too. His reputation is shot, his game has followed. At least now whatever energy and emotion he was spending on attempting to retroactively save his family won’t be needed.

The Woods’ marriage is over. What’s left of Tiger is anyone’s guess.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Watch Out For Yellowstone Bears - They're Hungry

Yellowstone's grizzlies are going to be particularly hungry this fall, and that means more dangerous meetings with humans in a year that is already the area's deadliest on record.
Scientists report that a favorite food of many bears, nuts from whitebark pine cones, is scarce. So as grizzlies look to put on some major pounds in preparation for the long winter ahead, scientists say, they will be looking for another source of protein — meat — and running into trouble along the way. Wildlife managers already report bears coming down off the mountains and into areas frequented by hunters, berry pickers and hikers.
"Pack your bear spray: there's going to be run-ins," said grizzly researcher Chuck Schwartz with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Two people have been fatally mauled by grizzlies so far this year in Wyoming and Montana. Experts said that's the most in one year in at least a century for the Yellowstone region, which also includes parts of Idaho.
The bears in both instances were later killed. Full-grown Yellowstone bears can stand 6 feet tall and top 600 pounds. They have been known to peel off a man's face with a single swipe of their massive, clawed paws.
In the latest attack, a Michigan man was killed and two others injured when an undernourished bear and her three cubs marauded through a crowded campground near Cooke City, Mont. on July 28. A month earlier, a botanist from Cody, Wyo. was killed by a bear shortly after the animal woke up from being tranquilized by researchers.
And it's not just humans at risk. Yellowstone's grizzlies were recently ordered back onto the threatened species list by a federal judge who cited in part a decline in whitebark pine. Beetles, apparently surviving winters in larger numbers due to less frequently freezing temperatures, have decimated vast stands of the high-altitude trees. In some areas studied by researchers, more than 70 percent of trees have been killed.
While bears aren't starving, the loss of whitebark is driving increasing numbers of conflicts with humans.
"Every year is now a bad year for whitebark pine," said Louisa Wilcox with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We can expect more conflicts and we are getting it."

Government scientists said the two fatal maulings came too early in the year for whitebark pine to have played a role. Bears typically don't start gorging themselves on the troves of pine nuts that are stashed by squirrels until mid-August.  But the attacks highlighted the hazards of a region that is home to an estimated 580 grizzlies and visited by more than 3 million people a year. And officials said the maulings should serve as a warning as bears begin to push to lower elevations. Adult males will need to gain on average 50 pounds in the next few months to last through the winter.
"Right now every god-dang dead cow down in this country's got grizzlies on them," said Mark Bruscino, a bear specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Cody. "We've already had a couple of reports of bears on the gut piles of hunter-killed elk. Road-killed deer have bears on them."
Hazardous encounters with humans are considered most likely outside Yellowstone National Park, in occupied areas along the fringes of the bears' 14,000-square-mile wilderness habitat.

The record number of bear deaths, 79, came in 2008 — another poor year for whitebark pine. Global warming rears it's ugly head again.

Van Gogh :Confusion Grows Over Stolen Van Gogh Painting

(August 22) - The investigation into how  a Van Gogh painting was snatched from a Cario museum  has turned into a farce worthy of fictional French detective  Inspector Jacques Clouseau.
News of the painting's theft - known as both  the "Poppy Flowers" and "Vase With Flowers" - broke Saturday when Egypt's minister of culture announced that the $50 million work of  art had been "cut from its frame " while on show at the Mahmoud Khalil museum. He added that police  were  now studying security camera  footage  and questioning employees.
However , attempts to examine that footage might prove difficult , because according to one security official  interviewed by Agence France-Presse, both the museum's cameras  and its alarms have been out of action for "a long time. "the cameras had not been working for a long time , and neither had the alarm system,"  said the official , speaking on condition of anonymity. "We don't know exactly know how long they had been out of order, but it was a long,long time. The museum officials  said they  were looking for spare parts [for the security system] but hadn't managed to find them [by the time of the theft ]."
The  revalation is the lastest in a string of embassments  for authorities , on Saturday evening , Culture Minister  Farouq Hosni announced that Egyptian police had arrested  two young Italians - who visited the museum earlier in the day - at Cario airport n as they attempted to smuggle the oil painting out  of the country. however, later in the day  he was forced  to retract that claim, saying that it had been based on  an erroneous report from a subordinate. "The information...came from...[ministry officials ] Mohsen Shaalan. Despite Shaalan receiving confirmation was inaccurate," the minister said in a statement, according to Middle East Online.
Exactly what  has happen to the two Italians supposedly held by Egyptian police is unclear.  Caterina Gioiella, a consular official at Italy's embassy in Cario today told news agency ANSA that no Italians had been arrested in connection with the missing painting.
The authorities bumbling response to the theft - and the lack of basic safeguards at the gallery - will surprise  many in the art world, as this is the second time that the piece has been snatched from the Khalil Museum. Thieves first made off with  the 12- inch by 12- inch  canvas in 1978, although it was recovered at an undisclosed  location in Kuwait two years later . However , a duplicate  was sold for $43 million a year later, sparking specclation that the retuned painting was a fake.
Van Godh's piece - believed to have been painted in 1887 - is one of the star attractions in the Khalil Museum's  extensive collection of 19th century French works, which also features  painting by Paul Gauguin , Gustave Courbet , Francois Millet , Claude Monet  , Edouard Manet , Auguste Renoir and Auguste Rodin. The works were all originally owned by Mahmoud Khalil, an Egyptian parliamentarian in the 1930's.
My spin : Sounds kind of fishy to me ...maybe an inside job....HUH ??? What you think???

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ever Wonder How Astronauts Go to the Bathroom???....Sure You Have

Okay, now I know why I am not going into space any time soon. Geez Louise! By the time you get everything turned on and aligned and strap yourself down, you don't have to go any more.... or you have to change your pants.

I Hate This Heat

When it gets hot and muggy like it is at this moment, I pull up a couple of pictures of the back of my house, which were taken in January, and allow my mind to drift back to that day. Soon, I feel cool and refreshed and feel capable of continuing to work despite the sweat running into  my eyes and onto my keyboard.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Entire Ice Sheet of Greenland About to Disappear From the Earth

A panel of scientists told Congress the entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C –3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with severe consequences for the rest of the world.The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23 feet. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish.

The Greenland ice sheet  is a vast body of ice covering  660,235 sq mi, roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland. It is the second largest ice body in the World, after the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ice sheet is almost 1,500 mi long in a north-south direction, and its greatest width is 680 mi at a latitude of 77°N, near its northern margin.  The thickness is generally more than 1.24 mi; 1.86 mi at its thickest point. It is not the only ice mass of Greenland – isolated glaciers and small ice caps cover between  29,344 and 38,610 sq mi around the periphery. The ice in the current ice sheet is as old as 110,000 years.

 Scientists believe  global warming may be about to push the ice sheet over a threshold where the entire ice sheet will melt in less than a hundred or so years. If the entire 683,751 cu mi of ice were to melt, it would lead to a global sea level rise. This would inundate most coastal cities in the World and remove several small island countries from the face of Earth, since island nations such as Tuvalu and Maldives have a maximum altitude below or just above this number.

 'Goodbye  World,' as we know it. 'Hello Seaworld.'

Tour a $300 Million Yacht and Drool

Talk about lifestyles of the absurdly rich and famous!

In another decade, Robin Leach would've leapt at the opportunity to tour Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichencko's 394-foot yacht, which has never before been seen by the public - until now. According to the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal gained exclusive access to the ship called 'A,' which reportedly costs more than $300 million and is hotly debated in the boating community for its radical exterior.

Brought to life by legendary French designer Phillipe Starck, the 'A' features three pools, a discotheque and even a padded guest room covered in white stingray hides. The pimped-out luxury cruiser also features a $60,000 banister, a secret room created specifically for 'nookie' and a helipad, just in case wildly wealthy guests of the 38-year-old Melnichencko feel like dropping by.

Watch the Wall Street Journal's exclusive tour of the famous yacht below:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Michelle Obama's Fashion Statement : Woolly Mammoth Ivory Is Huge

Wooly mammoth ivory 'jewery' is everywhere.
Luxury retailer Stanley Korshak in Dallas, Texas can't keep it in stock. Michelle Obama  has been photographed numerous times wearing it. For CFDA design darling Monique P`ean  and Ivory Jacks in Bothel, Washington, that create the material, business has been good.
The Fist Lady wore woolly mammoth jewery by Monique P`ean on a trip to Mexico a few months ago - specifically earrings , cuffs and strangs. She wore the cuffs again recently to greet President Obama on his 49th birthday. The cuffs go for $4,480 to $7,420 at http://www.twistonline.com/. The earrings can fetch between $915 and $2,970 at http://www.barneys.com/.

Unlike elephant ivory which is primarily  off-white, woolly mammoth ivory is unique in that it has many different colors tans, brown and sometime blue. Ivory Jacks jewelry designer Courtney Tripp explained this week at the Gift Show in New york that the colors are a result of thousands of years of mineralization. No two tusks are the same color. So no two mammoth jewery pieces can be exactly the same.
The ban on ivory-implemented since the 80's  to stop poachers from killing the elephants simply for their tusks does not apply  to this fossilized stuff. Trade in dead mammoth  ivory is legal  and has been for 300 years  because of mammoths found in the permafrost of Arctic regions in Siberia, North canada or Alaska. As  the ice packs and glaciers have receded, more and more tusks have been found. Tusks have been unearthed in road contruction or spotted from a plane  in melting river banks.

Most jewelers claim that woolly mammoth jewelry is conflict free, eco friendly and sustainable . The truth is  mammoth ivory is rare  and costly because mammoths have been extinct for millennia. The AFP reports Hong Kong customs cleared 21 tons of mammoth ivory and more than 90 percent of it came from Russia's arctic tundra. Most of it is from 10,000 to 40,000 years old. While it's hard to say how soon the worlds stockpile  of fossilized ivory could disappear, Fisher says it probably won't be any sooner than about 10 years from now..
My spin : Wonder if the First lady would give a donation to the Polar Bears. It's  a worthy cause to save the endangered species and solve the problem of Climate Change. Perhaps we'll ask her...it's worth a try...stay tuned;

Dr Laura Plans to End Radio Show

Talk show host Laura Schlessinger says her desire to talk freely without having affiliates and sponsors attack her led to her abrupt decision to end the"Dr. Laura" radio show later this year. Schlessinger said she is walking away a week after apologizing for repeating a racial epithet 11 times on the air while talking to a black woman with a white husband, then saying, "if you're that hypersensitive about colour and don't have a sense of humour, don't marry out of your race."

She apologized a day after the Aug. 10 remarks, but Media Matters for America called for her removal from the talk show. The group encouraged its members to contact show sponsors and affiliates and urge them to drop "Dr. Laura."
Schlessinger said Tuesday on CNN's "Larry King Live" that her daily talk show will end when her contract expires this year, with the last show probably around Christmas. She said she was wrong to say what she said, was sorry for it, but "there are people who won't accept my apology."
"When I started in radio, if you said something somebody didn't agree with and they didn't like, they argued with you," she said. "Now they try to silence you ... My First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups who don't want to debate. They want to eliminate."

Media Matters' Ari Rabin-Havt said the apology wasn't accepted because his group was concerned about Schlessinger's overall attitudes toward race, more than just the epithet. And those attitudes weren't addressed in the apology, he said.
For Schlessinger to portray herself as a free speech "martyr" is an outrage, he said.
"She has the constitutional right to make her statements, and I have the same right to assemble people to challenge the statements," he said.
It was not immediately clear how many sponsors had pulled out of her radio program but there were several.

Previously, Schlessinger's negative comments about homosexuality on her television show in 2000 inspired gay activists to campaign to get her off the air. Seems like this lady's speciality is jamming her foot in her mouth.