Watchful eyes, thoughtful mind

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

I do 30 December 16, 2009

Filed under: environment,human interference,technology — Radiance @ 1:47 PM
This is a real quick post about a simple but valuable campaign/message that I came across called ‘I do 30’. The ‘I do 30’ campaign was started in Denmark by the bio-innovation company Novozymes, who creates the enzymes that makes it possible to wash your clothes at low temperatures. ‘I do 30’ is about those small climate friendly choices you can make in your everyday life to make a bigger change. Almost all of us wash clothes in hot water of temperature around 60 degrees C.
An environmental social media campaign called ‘I do 30’encourages people across the world to turn down the temperature on their laundry to 30 degrees C in order to save CO2. If you are at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) you will see them move around the streets of Copenhagen with speech bubbles, hoping the ‘I do 30’ statements will reach the leaders of the world. These bubbles have statements from the campaign supporters from around the world saying why “they do 30”.

This weekend, the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, was presented with more than 15,000 supporters of the campaign. And the Danish Crown Prince was also handed over a ‘I do 30’ washing machine. Check out the video and photos. If you want to know more about this campaign and participate, check out their website, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Once of the few environmentally conscious groups that are making good use of the immense power of social media to reach out to people.


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.


Pushing it back December 10, 2009

Filed under: archaeology,evolution,oceanography — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

17644_webThis is a short post sharing two stories of latest archaeological discoveries that are once again pushing back the dates of the advent of “civilised” humans.

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK) reports on EurekaAlert of Pavlopetri — the world’s oldest known submerged town.

The world’s oldest known submerged town has been revealed through the discovery of late Neolithic pottery. The finds were made during an archaeological survey of Pavlopetri, off the southern Laconia coast of Greece. Marine geo-archaeologist Dr Nic Flemming of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton said: “The discovery of Neolithic pottery is incredible! It means that we are looking at a port city which may be 5000-6000 years old, with trade goods and wrecks nearby showing some of the very earliest days of seafaring trade in the Mediterranean.” […]”What we’ve got here is something which is two or even three thousand years older than most of the submerged cities which have been studied,” said Flemming: “And it is uniquely complete. We have almost the complete town plan, the main streets and all of the domestic buildings. “

William G. Gilroy writes in ScienceDaily, based on materials provided by University of Notre Dame, about how World’s Oldest Known Granaries Predate Agriculture.

A new study co-authored by Ian Kuijt, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, describes recent excavations in Jordan that reveal evidence of the world’s oldest know granaries. […]However, in a paper appearing in the June 23 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, Kuijt and Bill Finlayson, director, Council for British Research in the Levant, describe recent excavations at Dhra’ near the Dead Sea in Jordan that provide evidence of granaries that precede the emergence of fully domesticated plants and large-scale sedentary communities by at least 1,000 years.

These kinds of discoveries keep scientists on their toes, rethinking the flow of history and pre-history. Some day perhaps the concept of Yuga cycles and that of advanced knowledge that ancients possessed will be vindicated through such discoveries.

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TED Tuesday: Wireless electricity December 8, 2009

Filed under: technology,TED,unconventional — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

Eric Giler wants to untangle our wired lives with cable-free electric power. Here, he covers what this sci-fi tech offers, and demos MIT’s breakthrough version, WiTricity — a near-to-market invention that may soon recharge your cell phone, car, pacemaker.


Here we go again … December 3, 2009

Filed under: biology,chemistry,geology,oceanography,unconventional — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

03_32_ATP_and_ADP_cycleTechnological advances have a peculiar way about them. They always seem to progress in steps of exponential growth followed by a period of lull. This trend is closely followed by our ability to learn new things about the world around us. And so human beings, particularly scientists, go through alternating periods of “discovery frenzy” and complacency that there’s nothing more left to explain. We had hit such a complacent period a few decades ago as regards origin and evolution of life on our planet. But now we’re in the “discovery frenzy” stage for the same and hence getting disillusioned about many theories and principles that we thought were invincible. Many new discoveries using newest and (so far) most accurate techniques are making it more than clear that the question of “how life originated on Earth?” is far from settled.

Nick Lane, the first Provost’s Venture Research Fellow at University College London and author of Life Ascending: The ten great inventions of evolution, has written a detailed article in the New Scientist on 19th October, 2009 about an alternative theory for origin of life. This is only the latest one in the long line of many such that came before it but didn’t survive the scientific scrutiny. It is based on not-so-conventional ideas of Peter Mitchell who was initially dismissed by his contemporaries but won a Nobel in 1978. Geochemist Mike Russell of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California is rethinking the origin of life and finds Mitchell’s ‘Chemiosmosis’ a valid candidate. The following text from Lane’s article explains the idea,

Before Mitchell, everyone assumed that cells got their energy using straightforward chemistry. The universal energy currency of life is a molecule called ATP […] generated from food by a series of standard chemical reactions. Mitchell thought otherwise. Life, he argued, is powered not by the kind of chemistry that goes on in a test tube but by a kind of electricity. The energy from food, […] is used to pump […] protons, through a membrane. As protons accumulate on one side, an electrochemical gradient builds up across the membrane. Given the chance, the protons will flow back across, releasing energy that can be harnessed to assemble ATP molecules. In energy terms, the process is analogous to filling a raised tank with buckets of water, then using the water to drive a waterwheel.

lst cityEven though this seems a counterintuitive and roundabout way to produce energy to power life, there is a growing body of evidence of this process occurring everywhere in nature. Aided with the latest knowledge of fellow biologists and using a logical process of elimination, author Lane reaches a baffling conclusion. The common ancestor of all life on Earth was something with components of a modern cell but no walls or boundaries. Now that’s a stunner! But nature has never failed to provide us evidence for the most unexpected and hence broaden the horizons of our knowledge. So along came the surprise discovery of alkaline hyrdrothermal vents just off the mid-Atlantic ridge in 2000. It turns out that the combination of their peculiar structure and the chemical conditions of atmosphere and ocean the on the early Earth provide a perfect toolkit for the production of DNA, RNA, an ATP prototype, all without the requirement for a wall or boundary. I have only given an outline of what Nick Lane’s article describes in a great detail. So if my summary makes you curious, go read the full article.

I’ll end this post with the apt ending Nick Lane provides to his article,

Many details have yet to be filled in, and it may never be possible to prove beyond any doubt that life evolved by this mechanism. The evidence, however, is growing. This scenario matches the known properties of all life on Earth, is energetically plausible – and returns Mitchell’s great theory to its rightful place at the very centre of biology.

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TED Tuesday: Visualising data and sound December 1, 2009

Filed under: acoustic,animation,computer,technology,TED — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

JoAnn Kuchera-Morin demos the AlloSphere, a new way to see, hear and interpret scientific data. Dive into the brain, feel electron spin, hear the music of the elements … and detect previously unseen patterns that could lead to new discoveries.

Evan Grant demonstrates the science and art of cymatics, a process for making soundwaves visible. Useful for analyzing complex sounds (like dolphin calls), it also makes complex and beautiful designs.

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Almost gone … hope not! November 28, 2009

Filed under: endangered species,extinction,human interference — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

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

Hi kids, parents and all. Today I wanted share of some positive things that people are doing to make a difference for endangered species. When you watch these videos, you’ll want to thank these people. Hey, I’m doing my best here, I wish I could write like Richard Bach, but I try to make it interesting.

Lions Get To Live

In Africa, the lions were eating the farmers’ cattle, so the farmers did the only thing they thought would solve the problem, which was to take out as many of them as possible. So, fewer and fewer lions were to being seen. Hey, if they were my cows, I would do the same thing. Lions are professionals at running to catch something to eat.

Well, a group of people who called Conservation org. learned that this was happening, and sent some people to talk with the farmers. Check out the solution. Now the farmers let the lions live! Yahoo! See video. It’s a great video of people helping in a tough situation. Just Google some good things for endangered species, and you’ll find some good things happening.

Raising Shark Awareness

Here’s another person I read about. Here name is Lesley Rochat from South Africa. Boy, does she care about sharks and other marine life. She has a cool video about Maxine the shark. This is a great video! She was a friend with a ragged toothed shark for ten years, and this shark became a star! And with all of our support, will put an end to shark finning. Parents, she has other videos, but you’ll have to use your discretion. They are the best videos made to stop shark finning.

Breeding Species In Captivity

When a species home gets smaller and smaller, animals get in a lot of trouble as far as survival is concerned. Now some caring people take animals from where they live and breed them. It’s called, “breeding in captivity.” It just means that they make other species away from where they live. If people did not do this, the animal would go extinct.

I can’t wait to share this with you! On an island called, “Madagascar, they have some of the strangest animals on our planet. The thing is, species like the fossa, the leaf tailed gecko, and aye-aye only exist on this island. And a lot of their forests are being cut down. People are trying to change that too. So for now, some people learned that a lot of the animals were in trouble there and sprung into action.

Way To Go Duke

Yes indeed, Duke University came to the rescue! Take a look at this video. One of the animals they breed is the aye-aye. Just say eye, eye, and you will had said their name right. My hats are off to the people at the Duke Lemur Center because they are breeding a bunch of species that would have gone extinct.

Look how cute the aye-aye’s are. And it’s the only place on earth where they live. Ok, I found one other video about Dr. Kathy Williams and what she does. Thank you Duke!

To Wrap Up For Today

What I’m suggesting is we learn about what’s happening with different animals, and get enthused about the value of a species! When we learn why a species is important, that is valuable information to share with your teachers, and with your parents help, you can write a leader. Way to go! Thanks kid, parents and all, I hope you enjoyed me sharing what some wonderful people are doing to make a difference. What species will we look at next week? Stay tuned.

Please check out the books on my site, if we educate our kids with books, DVDs, and write a leader, we can be part of the solution to lower the endangered species rate. And I have cool bamboo items for the home. Check my site, I have other fun videos, plus blogs and books for your learning. Remember, education is what can turn this around.

I also post some funny looking species on Twitpic.

And I’m Speciesguy on Twitter. Come say hi.