Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dragon 'to rival Great Wall of China'

"Chinese people have condemned a project to build a 13-mile long dragon along a mountain ridge outside a city.

Developers say the project will rival the Great Wall of China and revive tourism to historic Xinzheng city, Henan province.

But, in a survey of 50,000 people, 92% strongly opposed the project for "abusing the environment and wasting money".

More than 800 metres of the dragon, made of steel and cement, have already been completed, reports Henan Business News.

It snakes along the ridge of Shizu Mountain, which is believed to have been the residence of China's first emperor.

Li Xiong, president of the Zulong company behind the dragon, says it will cost more than £260 million and he hopes Chinese people all over the world will contribute.

"The finished dragon is to wear 5.6 million scales of jade or gold-coated bronze. People can pay to carve words on the scales, and inside the body there will be trains and clubs. It will be a place for cultural activities and relaxation," he said.

"I am not afraid of attacks. Our ancestors built the Great Wall, and now I am building the Great Dragon. I will succeed.'"

Bizarre Hexagon Spotted on Saturn

"One of the most bizarre weather patterns known has been photographed at Saturn, where astronomers have spotted a huge, six-sided feature circling the north pole.

Rather than the normally sinuous cloud structures seen on all planets that have atmospheres, this thing is a hexagon.

The honeycomb-like feature has been seen before. NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft imaged it more than two decades ago. Now, having spotted it with the Cassini spacecraft, scientists conclude it is a long-lasting oddity.

"This is a very strange feature, lying in a precise geometric fashion with six nearly equally straight sides," said Kevin Baines, atmospheric expert and member of Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We've never seen anything like this on any other planet. Indeed, Saturn's thick atmosphere, where circularly-shaped waves and convective cells dominate, is perhaps the last place you'd expect to see such a six-sided geometric figure, yet there it is."

The hexagon is nearly 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) across. Nearly four Earths could fit inside it. The thermal imagery shows the hexagon extends about 60 miles (100 kilometers) down into the clouds.

At Saturn's south pole, Cassini recently spotted a freaky human eye-like feature that resembles a hurricane.

"It's amazing to see such striking differences on opposite ends of Saturn's poles," said Bob Brown, team leader of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer at the University of Arizona. "At the south pole we have what appears to be a hurricane with a giant eye, and at the north pole of Saturn we have this geometric feature, which is completely different."

The hexagon appears to have remained fixed with Saturn's rotation rate and axis since first glimpsed by Voyager 26 years ago. The actual rotation rate of Saturn is still uncertain, which means nobody knows exactly how long the planet's day is.

"Once we understand its dynamical nature, this long-lived, deep-seated polar hexagon may give us a clue to the true rotation rate of the deep atmosphere and perhaps the interior," Baines said."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mouse Absconds With Maine Man's Dentures

WATERVILLE, Maine - "Never underestimate a mouse's determination. There's a mouse in Bill Exner's house that he says he has captured three times. Each time, the mouse escaped, and the last time the rodent made off with his lower dentures.

Exner, 68, said he and his wife Shirley scoured his bedroom after the dentures disappeared from his night stand.

"We moved the bed, moved the dressers and the night stand and tore the closet apart," he said. "I said, 'I knew that little stinker stole my teeth' - I just knew it."

They found a small opening in a wall where they suspected the mouse was coming and going, and their daughter's fiance, Eric Holt, stepped in to help.

"He brought a crowbar and hammer and he sawed off a section of wood and pulled up the molding and everything," Exner said. "It was quite a job."

They retrieved the dentures, and Holt suggested his future father-in-law boil them in peroxide and whatever else he could find for to disinfect it.

The mouse apparently isn't done. It frequently comes out and stares at Exner, his wife said.

"He's taunting him - I swear he's taunting him," Shirley Exner said."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Meeting to address how Chimpanzees think

"Jane Goodall, the world's best-known observer of chimpanzee behavior, watched the chimps at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo on Saturday while a crowd of zoo-goers gathered to watch her.

"She's very important," one woman told two 6-year-old girls she'd brought to the zoo. "She did a lot of very exciting things."

Goodall, 72, is in Chicago for a three-day conference billed as the first scientific meeting on how chimpanzees think - not just how they behave. Goodall, who revolutionized research on primates during the 1960s when she studied them at close range in Tanzania, is scheduled to give a sold-out lecture Sunday at Navy Pier.

At the meeting, which ends Sunday, 30 researchers are presenting their work on chimps' apparent mental capacity for empathy, cooperative problem-solving and even deception. All the presenters have cited Goodall's trailblazing work, said conference co-chair Elizabeth Lonsdorf, director of the Fisher Center.

The current "Mind of the Chimpanzee" meeting has drawn 300 of the world's leading primatologists to the zoo's Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes. It takes place against a backdrop of logging of forest habitat in Africa and growing international pressure to save chimpanzees and other apes, Goodall said.

"When I began in 1960 there must have been at least a million chimpanzees across Africa in 25 countries," Goodall said. "We don't think there are more than 150,000 now spread over 21 countries, many of them in tiny groups that, unless we can do something to help them, will become extinct."

Goodall's research documented tool use, emotions and war in the chimpanzee groups she observed, and her books and TV specials about her work at the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve sparked the world's curiosity about apes. She drew criticism from her peers for giving names to the animals she studied, but the public fell in love with her approach.

Goodall said a similar 1986 Chicago conference and its presentations on habitat destruction, illegal trade in chimpanzees for meat and treatment of chimps in medical research prompted her to switch from research to advocacy.

Later, at the zoo's chimpanzee enclosure, Goodall saw how 7-year-old Kipper followed 16-year-old Hank, the leader of the group, through the tree branches of their outdoor enclosure.

"It's his hero. Hero-worshipping," Goodall said. "At Gombe (in Tanzania), they do the same. They pick on one male - it doesn't have to be the alpha - and just follow that person around."

She seemed unaware of the flock of followers she herself had collected as she walked around the zoo."

On the Net:

The Mind of the Chimpanzee

Saturday, March 17, 2007

His nibs

What a brilliantly titled article!

"If the masters of industry or politics were to sit down to sign some big merger deal or trade treaty, only to pull out a yellow Bic, a sense of the inappropriate might strike even the most ardent fan of disposable pens. In distinct contrast to the kind of pen found by the box-load in office stationery cupboards, the Montblanc Meisterstück, one of the largest fountain pens on the market, is often referred to as the Power Pen, given its use for signing important documents by various leaders.

Part of the appeal of the fountain pen is that it is symbolic – and enduringly so. Other pens may be much less expensive, lighter, require less maintenance and would be less sorely missed if lost (if missed at all). But the reason to buy and use a fountain pen is more psychological than practical. The fountain pen, which has seen sales growth of 18 per cent from 2001 to 2005, embodies a desirable degree of ceremony and prestige that lesser pens forego.

“I use a pencil at work because I make too many mistakes, a ballpen for checking finances but a fountain pen when I need to sign anything personal or of importance,” says Mark Ivory, director of sales for pen brand Cross.

The image of the fountain pen as temperamental, fragile and prone to spills no longer holds true. Technology has led to more free-flowing inks and less likelihood of blockage or leakage, with new materials meaning the modern fountain pen is able to operate, for instance, in the pressurised cabin of an aircraft.

“Getting out of a plane with a big blue spot on your shirt is not good for the reputation of the brand – or the man,” says Wolff Heinrichsdorff, chief executive of Montblanc. Indeed, he is happy to point out that the brand’s “new” Rouge et Noir – a pen designed in 1908 and reissued as an exact replica to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary last year – is likely to leave your fingers inky. But it is a testament to the fountain pen’s popularity that the industry’s steady flow of limited editions is snapped up by a healthy collectors’ market."

Click on the title link to read the entire article in the Financial Times of London

Friday, March 16, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Images of seas on Saturn's moon Titan

One of the seas is larger than the Great Lakes

"A NASA spacecraft has found evidence of huge seas, likely filled with liquid methane or ethane, in the high northern latitudes of Saturn's moon Titan.

One of the seas is larger than any of the Great Lakes in North America and possibly only slightly smaller than the Caspian Sea, which lies between Russia and Iran and is the largest lake on Earth. (Lakes are typically landlocked but the Caspian Sea was called a sea when it was initially discovered because it tasted salty.)

The very dark features, detected by a radar instrument on NASA's Cassini spacecraft, are located near Titan's north pole, and one of them measures at least 39,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers), much larger than similar features seen before on the Saturnian moon."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sun's baby twin spotted in 'Pillars of Creation'

"Likened to a stellar womb, the iconic soaring space towers known as the Pillars of Creation have revealed an embryo of an infant star that could develop into a twin of our Sun.

Astronomers imaged the baby star in what they consider the earliest stages of development ever detected for this type of object.

Hiding out on a nodule that juts out from the left pillar, “E42” is known as an evaporating gas globule, also referred to as an EGG. An EGG is a dense pocket of interstellar gas that forms an “egg” from which a star emerges. This particular EGG has the same mass as the sun and appears to be maturing in a violent environment matching the one thought to have produced Earth’s life-giving star."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Artist found!

Well, it only took a couple of minutes after posting this for one of my eagle-eyed customers to supply the information (thanks again Steve!).

Here name is Jennifer Maestre, and here website is here.

Take a look at her pencil sculptures in my entry below this one.

Terrific work Jennifer!!!!!

Pencil art!

The following fantastic images were sent to me by a friend, forwarded from a friend by another friend, etc. If anyone knows who created these incredible pencil sculptures, please add a comment below. I'd like to give credit to the person or persons responsible!

Friday, March 02, 2007

10,000 to play table tennis simultaneously in Beijing

"Beijing is planning to stage a table tennis competition, which may feature 10,000 people playing simultaneously at the Tiananmen Square, the heart of the Chinese capital, a municipal sports official said.

"We are waiting for approval of relevant departments of the government. If the idea is rejected, we will choose another open space to hold the competition," Sun Kanglin, heda of the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau, told a press conference Wednesday.

Every district of the city will be invited to hold preliminary tournaments to select the 10,000 entrants for the open-air spectacle, according to Sun.

Tiananmen, at the southern end of Beijing's celebrated Forbidden City, is the biggest city square in the world, measuring 440,000 square meters.

The ambitious table tennis competition is just one of a series of mass sports activities planned by the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau, said Sun. Others include a lion dance fest, the Beijing Farmers Sports Meet, and the sports meet for rural immigrant workers."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Stephen Hawking Plans Prelude to the Ride of His Life

"Stephen Hawking, the British cosmologist, Cambridge professor and best-selling author who has spent his career pondering the nature of gravity from a wheelchair, says he intends to get away from it all for a little while.

On April 26, Dr. Hawking, surrounded by a medical entourage, is to take a zero-gravity ride out of Cape Canaveral on a so-called vomit comet, a padded aircraft that flies a roller-coaster trajectory to produce periods of weightlessness. He is getting his lift gratis, from the Zero Gravity Corporation, which has been flying thrill seekers on a special Boeing 727-200 since 2004 at $3,500 a trip.

Peter H. Diamandis, chief executive of Zero G, said that “the idea of giving the world’s expert on gravity the opportunity to experience zero gravity” was irresistible.

In some ways, this is only a prelude. Dr. Hawking announced on his 65th birthday, in January, that he hoped to take a longer, higher flight in 2009 on a space plane being developed by Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic, which seeks to take six passengers to an altitude of 70 miles.

Dr. Hawking says he wants to encourage public interest in spaceflight, which he believes is critical to the future of humanity.

“I also want to show,” he said in an e-mail interview, 'that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.'"

Read more from the NY Times article by clicking the title above