Watchful eyes, thoughtful mind

Earth and us ….. past, present and future ….. connected?

TED Tuesday: Supercomputer to mimic brain December 15, 2009

Filed under: computer,nature,TED — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

Henry Markram says the mysteries of the mind can be solved — soon. Mental illness, memory, perception: they’re made of neurons and electric signals, and he plans to find them with a supercomputer that models all the brain’s 100,000,000,000,000 synapses.

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9 types of intelligence November 5, 2009

Filed under: art,linguistics,mathematics,nature,spiritual — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

[Image source]

When we talk about someone intelligent, we usually mean it in a way that the person has done well in studies, academics or some such intellectual faculty. Would you call someone who has great sense of direction and never needs a GPS, intelligent? Would you call someone with a great ear for music and composition, intelligent? Or how about a hiker with incredible stamina? I’m sure most of you would go, “What? No! These things have got nothing to do with intelligence.” Well, think again. 

Melissa Breyer writes in Care2‘s ‘Healthy and green living’ section about 9 types of intelligence. Dr. Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has developed the theory of multiple intelligences, going beyond the IQ test to discover the many ways humans are smart. He identified intelligent abilities including language, music, spatial reference, kinesthesia, naturalistic, and possibly existential intelligence.

Once you read this article and Dr. Gardner’s theory (and may be even more depending on how interested you get) I am sure you’re way of judging someone as ‘not intelligent’ will change. I also think knowing that we possess different kind of intelligences which are not necessarily reflected on our marksheets is important. So many people would realise that they have at least one, if not more, kind of intelligence in them. You would think yourself much more worthy than you did till now. And more importantly, I hope, you will stop making your kids slog insane hours to get that A grade in academic subjects. And would appriciate their A grade in sports equally.

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TED Tuesday: From redwoods to north pole November 3, 2009

Filed under: biology,ecology,forest,nature,TED — Radiance @ 9:00 AM
Science writer Richard Preston talks about some of the most enormous living beings on the planet, the giant trees of the US Pacific Northwest. Growing from a tiny seed, they support vast ecosystems — and are still, largely, a mystery.
 
 
Lewis Pugh talks about his record-breaking swim across the North Pole. He braved the icy waters (in a Speedo) to highlight the melting icecap. Watch for astonishing footage — and some blunt commentary on the realities of supercold-water swims.
 
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Almost gone … Sharks October 31, 2009

Filed under: endangered species,nature,oceanography — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

Guest post series ‘Almost gone …’ by Scott Bright (@Speciesguy)

About five months ago I learned about shark fin soup. Over one hundred million sharks are being removed out of the ocean every year to this soup and long lining. The kids of the world have a right to know what’s going on with the shark, they are, after all, are going to be the next stewards of this blue sphere. Parents, please share this with your kids so they can take action.

I studied about a number of different sharks and discovered that each species has great purpose. Ironically, what’s being removed is what makes them so profoundly unique. I learned so much about the value of this species while writing the blog which is written for kids and all. So parents, please share this important information with your kids. I learned recently that sharks have been around for four hundred million years. They are such an evolved species, they can detect electrical signals under the sand, and lunch is served. But they will be gone in five if a billion of us don’t join together and say enough is enough. My heart goes out to the shark at this time. More than ever before in their history of being on our humble planet, they need people to speak for them.

Cool information about sharks

There is nothing quite like a kid that is passionate about something. When you and your kids learn why the sharks have immense value, they can share that with their friends, and maybe even a leader! And if a lot of kids get enthused, the sharks will be around for a long to come.

Check this out! This is amazing. Sharks have different kinds of tails because they are assigned different jobs in the ocean. This is the Tiger Shark. It needs to move slowly for cruising, and sudden burst of power and speed. This shark has to do a lot of twist and turns.

Why is that so important?

Well, lets look at what they eat: Fish, seals, birds, and smaller sharks. Oh, and don’t forget squids and turtles. Turtles! Yeah, I know I love the guys just as much as you. If the turtle is not eaten, then there will be too many of them. It is all part of the balance my friend.

The tail makes the difference

Kids, the design of the tail are why the tiger shark is great at catching these ocean critters. I also read that this shark will eat pretty much anything, like tires and car license plates. And this guy can grow to 11 to 17 feet and weigh as much as 1700 lbs. That is huge!

Share this one with your dentist

Some sharks replace their teeth, up to 30,000 in their life- time! They have a conveyor belt of them. If only we had that feature, because we would be able to say, look mom, no cavities!

Yes indeed, sharks eat things

They are what are referred to as a keystone species. If you’ve read my stuff, I mention this a lot. The sharks eat things, and they are the professionals. But each shark is assigned to eating specific things in the ocean. Can you see why ALL sharks are important?

Different tails for different jobs

This is the Short fin Mako Shark. It can swim at speeds of thirty plus miles an hour! That is fast underwater. Why do they swim so fast? Well, I’m sure they eat things that swim at that speed. Yep, they eat things that swim fast like tuna, mackerel, and the great swordfish. But they also eat porpoises, sea turtles and seabirds. Remember, it’s all about balance. Plus, they have a way of keeping they’re body warmer with the use of some red muscle that’s located near the centre of its body. And this generates heat. If they didn’t have this feature, they could not swim, catch and eat what it is made to do. 

Can you see the value of each shark in the ocean? To learn more, look at the books I have on my site, and buy the DVD called, “Shark Water.” This series says that sharks are not the monsters of the sea that we have all been taught to fear. I have a place on my humble site where kids and all can write to the President of the United States, and the Minister of Environmental Protection of China. Hey, if just one kid shares with passion why they are speaking for sharks, shark fin soup will be a thing of the past! I know fisherman make a hefty profit for the fins, but to have the entire species go extinct is unconscionable!

Bottom Line

Please sign this petition to write to the minister of environmental protection in China, Mr. Zhou Shengxian. This is one of the most important letters your kids or you could write. 100 million sharks leave the ocean for good every year to shark fin soup. And don’t forget to include long lining. Come to my site and write to President Obama. Just click the cute moving blue bird at RaceToSaveTheRaces.com. Think about it. The shark has been around for four hundred million years, and will be gone forever in five if we don’t act!

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Meet the super cow October 29, 2009

Filed under: animals,evolution,genetics,human interference,nature — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

I’m not sure what my reaction about this video is. It is one more of those instances where humans have used their scientific know how to manipulate the nature to their advantage. Selective breeding is used to produce these hugely muscular cows and bulls, weighing sometimes up to 1 tonne (ton). There is no cruelty to the animals involved here but even so, I couldn’t help but cringe a bit looking at these bovines.

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TED Tuesday: Engineering and evolution October 6, 2009

Filed under: animals,evolution,nature,technology,TED — Radiance @ 9:00 AM
Insects and animals have evolved some amazing skills — but, as Robert Full notes, many animals are actually over-engineered. The trick is to copy only what’s necessary. He shows how human engineers can learn from animals’ tricks.

 

Sunday Spotlight: Rockford’s Rock Opera September 27, 2009

Filed under: acoustic,animation,extinction,nature,sunday spotlight — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

Rockford

A cute little dog called Rockford gets lost and ends up in the Land of Infinity. There he meets lot of fascinating creatures who, to his surprise, turn out to be the last one of each that has gone extinct from our planet! They sing and dance and tell Rockford the stories of their extinction. Sounds like a great way of teaching your kids about ecology, extinction and their role in preserving the nature? It definitely is!

Rockford’s rock opera is a unique adventure in sound for adults and children. With narration, sound effects, songs and videos, it’s a totally new kind of musical experience. Its Facebook page describes it with words “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy meets The War of the Worlds, or Jungle Book meets Jurassic Park…” The members of this “musical experience” include Matthew Sweetapple, Steve Punt, Elaine Sweetapple and Jess Hodge along with others. Each one of them has contributed to this musical in their own capacities as producer, script writer, narrator, singer, voice-over for characters, illustrator to name only a few aspects. The first part of the story (52 minutes long) is available as mp3 audio for free download on their website. They also have a YouTube channel which lets you sample some of the animation videos that are part of this incredible story. I have listened to the audio book and watched the videos and cannot praise the creators of them enough. The music is catchy, lyrics are simple to understand and the animation is fascinating.

The first work of the Sweetapple label that I came across wasn’t the Opera at all. I saw their video Distant Generation on YouTube which was favourited by a friend and instantaneously fell in love with these folks. I then decided to dig a bit deeper and found a treasure trove of creative works in form of Rockford’s Rock Opera audio and video. Ever since then I have shared these works with people whenever I’ve gotten a chance. But I’ve always wanted to do a Sunday Spotlight on them and today seems to have been the fateful day. I am going to share the words directly from the website as I think they best describe the Opera and its purpose and scope.

Rockford’s Rock Opera is an amazing adventure in sound for adults and children. Part One of the story (six chapters: 52 minutes) is free! It features narration, read along text, characters, sound effects and music and is available as a free mp3 download and an audio stream. Great to listen to on your computer, your ipod or burnt onto CD, this is a free audiobook like no other. The website also contains useful background information about the story (including key information and free downloadable teaching resources about extinction and ecology), how the story was made and the facts behind the fiction.

Once you’ve sampled the story, you can buy it as an unabridged book on compact disc, together with illustrations and animated digital videos. Rockford’s Rock Opera is more than an electronic book, it’s a Musical Story about animals and an adventure about life on earth. It’s an original tale about extinction, but it’s also a story of hope. Created by Sweetapple and scripted by comedian and writer, Steve Punt, Rockford’s Rock Opera’s book on CD is funny, thoughtful, magical and like nothing you’ll ever have experienced before. Also, included are useful free Lesson Plans for teachers. Just press play to enjoy it online, click for Free Downloads – as an mp3 or iPod Story – then visit the shop to buy the specially enhanced discs that come with 24 page colour books, illustrations and videos. Truly a collectors’ audiobook on CD.

Much more than an adventure story, with animated videos, amazing sound effects and music, this is a children’s talking book like no other, available in a variety of easy-to-enjoy formats. It’s great for adults too and includes our own audiobook blog. Perfect for learning, great for storytelling in the classroom or for a wonderful, relaxing bedtime story treat, Rockford’s Rock Opera is first in a new generation of best children’s books. From the very young to older kids and adults, you’ll never have heard anything like this before. Edutainment at its very best for parents, teachers and especially, children!

Rockford’s Rock Opera has received rave reviews from the likes of WWF, BBC radio, The Independent, The Observer and more. And the great news is it is coming on to the stage in 2010. That’s going to be fantabulous! So now learning about our ecosystem and our role in it is really all song and dance.

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