quinta-feira, julho 30, 2009

Newfound Bird

Newfound Bird Is Bald

Scientists have discovered a rare new bird species with a bald head.

The creature, dubbed the bare-faced bulbul, was found in Laos, and is the only known bald songbird in mainland Asia.

It's also the first time in over 100 years that a new Asian species of bulbul bird has been uncovered.

"To find a new bird species is very rare these days," said Peter Clyne, assistant director for Asia Programs at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. "It's not like we're finding new species of birds every year. This is certainly a highly newsworthy event."

The chrome-domed songbird was discovered by Wildlife Conservation Society scientists Will Duckworth and Rob Timmins and Iain Woxvold of the University of Melbourne as part of a project funded by a mining company, Minerals and Metals Group, that operates in the region.

The bare-faced bulbul lives in the sparse trees and sun-bleached karst limestone of the Laos lowlands.

"Its apparent restriction to rather inhospitable habitat helps to explain why such an extraordinary bird with conspicuous habits and a distinctive call has remained unnoticed for so long," Woxvold said.

About the size of a thrush, the new bird has olive green feathers on its back and a light-colored breast. Its large dark eyes dominate its bald pink face.

"Whenever you come across a bird that's bald, it's a prominent characteristic," Clyne told LiveScience. "Usually, but not always, it's thought to play some kind of a role in communication between the sexes."

The researchers describe the bird's call as a "series of whistled, dry bubbling notes."

The researchers describe the new species, whose official name is Passeriformes Pycnonotidae, in the latest issue of the Oriental Bird Club's scientific journal Forktail.

SOURCE:New found bird

terça-feira, julho 28, 2009

Oldest Animals in Lakes

Oldest Animal Fossils Found in Lakes, Not Oceans
Mon Jul 27

Conventional wisdom has it that the first animals evolved in the ocean.

Now researchers studying ancient rock samples in South China have found that the first animal fossils are preserved in ancient lake deposits, not in marine sediments as commonly assumed.

These new findings not only raise questions as to where the earliest animals were living, but what factors drove animals to evolve in the first place.

For some 3 billion years, single-celled life forms such as bacteria dominated the planet. Then, roughly 600 million years ago, the first multi-cellular animals appeared on the scene, diversifying rapidly.

The oldest known animal fossils in the world are preserved in South China's Doushantuo Formation. These fossil beds have no adult specimens - instead, many of the fossils appear to be microscopic embryos.

"Our first unusual finding in this region was the abundance of a clay mineral called smectite," said researcher Tom Bristow, now at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "In rocks of this age, smectite is normally transformed into other types of clay. The smectite in these South China rocks, however, underwent no such transformation and have a special chemistry that, for the smectite to form, requires specific conditions in the water - conditions commonly found in salty, alkaline lakes."

The researchers collected hundreds of rock samples from several locations in South China. All their analyses suggest these rocks were not marine sediments.

"Moreover, we found smectite in only some locations in South China, and not uniformly as one would expect for marine deposits," Bristow said. "Taken together, several lines of evidence indicated to us that these early animals lived in a lake environment."

This discovery raises questions as to how and why animals appeared when they did.

"It is most unexpected that these first fossils do not come from marine sediments," said researcher Martin Kennedy, a geologist at the University of California at Riverside.

"Lakes are typically short-lived features on the Earth's surface, and they are not nearly as consistent environments as oceans are," he explained. "So it's surprising that the first evidence of animals we find is associated with lakes, which are far more variable environments than the ocean. You'd expect the first appearance of animals to be in the most conservative, stable environments we could imagine."

It remains possible, Kennedy noted, that animal fossils of similar or older age exist that remain to be found that are marine in origin. However, at the very least, this work suggests "that animals had already taken on the ability to deal with the environmental fluctuations one sees in lake environments," he said. "That suggests that their evolutionary response is much more rapid that I would have supposed, and that the earliest animals were far more diverse than imagined."

If animals did first develop in lakes, one aspect of lake environments that could have spurred on their evolution is how much easier it is for air to percolate through them, given how much shallower they typically are than the ocean.

"The most popular explanation for the evolution of animals has to do with the increase in oxygen in Earth's atmosphere at that time," Kennedy told LiveScience. "It's possible that lakes were the first to benefit from that increase in oxygen."

The scientists detailed their findings online July 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

domingo, julho 26, 2009

Sorry Ma'am

British economists send apology to queen

LONDON – Sorry Ma'am — we just didn't see it coming.

A British newspaper reported Sunday that a group of eminent economists have apologized to Queen Elizabeth II for failing to predict the financial crisis.

The Observer newspaper reported that a letter has been sent to the Queen after she demanded, during a visit to the London School of Economics last November, to know why nobody had anticipated the credit crunch.

According to the newspaper, the letter says that says "financial wizards" who believed that their plans to manage risky debts and protect the financial system were infallible were guilty of "wishful thinking combined with hubris."

Signatories to the three-page letter include Tim Besley, a member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee and historian Peter Hennessy.

The newspaper said the content was discussed during a seminar with a group of leading economists in June, including Nick MacPherson, a permanent secretary at Britain's Treasury, and Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill.

"In summary, your majesty, the failure to foresee the timing, extent and severity of the crisis and to head it off, while it had many causes, was principally a failure of the collective imagination of many bright people, both in this country and internationally, to understand the risks to the system as a whole," the newspaper quoted the letter as saying.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the correspondence, but said the Queen often discusses current issues with experts. In March, Mervyn King became the first Bank of England governor to be invited for private talks at the palace.

"The Queen always displays an interest in current issues and is kept abreast of current issues. Obviously the recession is very topical," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

Luis Garicano, a professor at the London School of Economics, said he had discussed the origins of the crisis with the Queen during her visit. He said she had asked: "Why did nobody notice it?"

The London School of Economics was not immediately available for comment, or to provide a copy of the letter

SOURCE: Yahoo.News

sábado, julho 25, 2009

Flu A

Chinese traditional medicine to cure flu A

Doctors of the Ditan hospital in Beijing, showed that traditional Chinese medicine used to cure 88 of 117 patients affected by influenza A who accepted to undergo such treatment.

According to Wang Yuguang, responsible for the hospital, said the agency Efe, of 297 confirmed cases of influenza seen at the local, 88 were treated with herbs, a treatment that "does not cause side effects and is safe." The officer also stated that the period of recovery of the patient with the use of traditional Chinese medicine is lower and the cost of 12 yuan (1.30 euro), compared with the price of Tamiflu, 56 yuan (5.80 euros).

"Moreover, the advantage is that doctors may prescribe different combinations of herbs according to the state of health of each individual," explained Wang.

Since the 15th of May, the leaders of the Ditan hospital, one designated to treat patients of influenza in China, began to use a combination of traditional medicine Tamiflu and a patient.

To prove the effectiveness of treatment, began to use only those herbs with patients who arrived later.

However, Sha daha, the Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Beijing's Chaoyang district, said that the use of such technique is more effective in the early stages of the disease because of its preventive nature.

Until now, China has recorded 4,018 cases of influenza, and that most patients infected by the virus has already been high. The first death due to disease, a man of 42 years, was recorded this month in Hong Kong.


sexta-feira, julho 24, 2009

Largest optical telescope

Came into operation last Friday the largest optical telescope in the world

El Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) was inaugurated today by the Kings is with a mirror diameter of 10.4 meters, the second most powerful of its range in the world, behind South African Large Telescope, which has a 11 meter segmented mirror, and ahead of two Americans Keck in Hawaii, whose mirrors are 10 meters in diameter.

Installed in the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), on the Canary island of La Palma, at an altitude of 2396 meters and an area of 5000 square meters, captured the first light of the Universe "in the early hours of 13-14 July 2007, at a ceremony presided by the Prince of Asturias, Honor Astrophysical Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and in 2000 laid the foundation stone for the construction of this large telescope.

With an approximate cost of 160 million euros, the promoter of the GTC is the Astrophysics Institute of Canarias (IAC) and its construction is provided by a public company Grantecan SA, established in 1994 with the participation, as partners, the Autonomous Community Canary Islands and the State General Administration.

Also involved in the construction of the telescope and the Institute of Astronomy of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM-IA), the Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Elctrónica of Puebla (Mexico) and the University of Florida (USA).

quarta-feira, julho 22, 2009


"Para o bem e para o mal, não pareço ter mudado muito de ideias em quarenta anos. Sinceramente, não sei se me deverei felicitar ou corrigir." - José Saramago, in Diário de Notícias

"O amor começa antes de começar e acaba depois de já ter acabado." - José Cardoso Pires, escritor português (1925-1998)

"Para falar inglês é preciso pôr a lingua entre os dentes e eu já perdi os meus." - Voltaire


Jupiter was hit by a comet

Given NASA's images, astronomers believe that Jupiter was hit by an object, possibly a comet.

NASA images show a tear from the giant planet's south pole.

The images, obtained on Monday by the infrared telescope of the U.S. space agency in Hawaii, appear at the 15th anniversary of another collision with a comet.

In 1994, Jupiter was bombarded by fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

Source: Sentido das Letras

quarta-feira, julho 15, 2009

A Nova GM

Surgiu a nova GM e oxalá que consiga realizar os seus objectivo que é "desenhar, produzir e comercializar os melhores carros do mundo".

Parece-nos ser demasiado ambicioso conseguir tudo isso sob uma mesma bandeira, particularmente tratando-se do ramo automóvel quando, ao longo da história do seu design e engenharia foram conhecidos tantos sucesssos e tantos fracassos pelas mais variadas marcas.

Mesmo nos tempos que vão correndo, quando se formulam desejos, será sempre bom ter os pés ou os pneus bem assentes na terra.

Por nós, só desejamos os maiores sucessos para benefício daqueles que gostam do automóvel e daquilo que tem representado para milhões de pessoas em todas as partes do mundo.

Como registado acima, a General Motores estuda introduzir alterações ao seu logo de sempre, pelo menos no mercado americano, passando eventualmente para a cor verde, mais em sintonia com as actuais preocupações quanto ao rigor ecológico.

domingo, julho 12, 2009

Ditos e citações

"Está bem pago quem está satisfeito" - William Shakespeare, dramaturgo inglês (1564-1616)

"A televisão pública estará sempre sob suspeita de governamentalização. Aqui ou na China." - Nuno Azinheira, in Diário de Notícias

"O jornalismo abandonou definitivamente a sua vocação de informação para de dedicar directamente à formação da opinião pública." - Leonel Moura, in Jornal de Negócios

"Os meios de comunicação social (...) apenas vêem e exploram o que é negativo e, assim, agravam o pessimismo. Precisamos de optimismo." - Proença de Carvalho, in Diário de Notícias