C'mon Feel the Noise: Due to Noise Pollution, Songbirds Change Tunes
|12:22:51 PM, Wednesday, May 25, 2011|
"In response to noise pollution, some songbirds change their tunes. But two closely related species have surprised scientists by editing their calls differently, a new study finds.
Birds rely on calls and songs, but human-generated noise threatens to interfere with such communication. There are more than 10,000 known bird species, making it impossible for scientists to test how each will respond to having humans as noisy neighbors. So they try to predict a bird’s response based on how a closely related species reacts. But there’s a catch. “If there are no clear patterns regarding how bird songs change in response to noise among closely related species, it will greatly limit our ability to predict how a species may change its song in new acoustic environments,” says Clinton Francis, an ecologist at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina.
To compare closely related species living in noisy environments, Francis and colleagues turned to plumbeous and gray vireo birds in woodland surrounding 26 gas-treatment sites—a mix of sites with noisy compressors as well as quiet control sites—in Rattlesnake Canyon Habitat Management Area in New Mexico in mid-2009. The setting was ideal because the sound made by the gas compressors, like most human-generated noise, is mostly in the lower frequency range that overlaps with those used by birds for communication. Furthermore, the number of people and the types of vegetation present were similar in both the noisy and the quiet locations, eliminating the chance these factors could skew any results. “Because these two vireos are closely related, we expected them to respond in the same way to the noise disturbance,” Francis says.
However, the two birds responded to the noise of the pumps in dramatically different ways, the scientists report in Biology Letters. The plumbeous vireo increased the minimum frequency of the sounds in its songs, reducing the overall range of frequencies used. In contrast, the gray vireo increased the maximum frequency of its cheery tunes, increasing its frequency range. Furthermore, the researchers found that song duration changed with increasing noise for both species but in opposite ways. The duration of the plumbeous vireo’s songs decreased with increasing noise, whereas the gray vireo’s songs were nearly 1.5 times longer than usual in the noisiest areas. Based on previous research into performance constraints for bird songs, the plumbeous vireo may not be able to sing as long when it increases the minimum frequency of its songs, the scientists speculate.
However, behavioral ecologist Jeffrey Podos of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says he is skeptical that both species like the noisy and quiet sites equally. “Yes, the two species are from the same genus, but the authors' own data suggest that these species differ in their willingness to live near the noisy compressors,” Podos says. “I thus don't follow the initial prediction that the two species should react similarly to masking noise.” Francis says that his team has previously found that gray vireos avoid nesting in noisy environments, as Podos mentions. But he believes the smaller number of nests could be due to the birds failing to secure a long-term mate in the noisy surroundings and that they still happily inhabit these environments, just like the plumbeous vireos."
Canon 1Ds and EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM Cutaway
|8:41:34 PM, Tuesday, May 24, 2011|
-- "You may have seen the cut-in-half Leica lens that has been floating around the web today, but that little gem has nothing on this thing. I spotted it at a small gear museum on the first floor of one of Canon's Japanese headquarters buildings. It's full of interesting stuff for camera nerds , but nothing was so striking as the cut-in-half camera you see above. That lens is the beautiful and lust-worthy 400MM f/4 DO IS USM that lists for $8,900 and usually goes for about $5,500 in the store. A Canon rep told me that the body is a 1Ds, which, while old, still fetches about $1,000 on eBay. But, the result reallly is incredible. All of those elements and the intricate bends in the casing are a little reminder of why this stuff costs as much as it does..."
Florida Man Attacks Woman with Swim Noodle After Dispute Over Watermelon
|2:16:31 PM, Tuesday, May 24, 2011|
"Everyone knows it's not summer without a quality noodle fight. But this old dude takes it to another level. Karl Ludwig Eichner, 68, got upset about a "head-shaped" watermelon that a lady threw into the ocean. He seems to have had a Wilson-like affinity for the rotten watermelon, attacked her with his swim noodle, punched her in the face, and ended up behind bars. The least shocking thing about the whole ordeal is that it happened in Florida. This is exactly the type of antics we expect from that phallus-shaped state. Police report below, via Naplesnews.com:
A woman who was at the beach with a friend observed a rotting watermelon that had been carved and shaped into a head sitting on the sand. The watermelon seemed to have been abandoned so she placed it in the ocean in hopes that it would disintegrate and not attract any bugs.
Eichner retrieved the watermelon from the ocean and placed it back on the beach. The woman placed the watermelon in the ocean once again.
Eichner approached the woman with his swim noodle full of water and dumped the water on her as she was sitting on her towel. He then punched her in the cheek..."
Stars With Multiple Planets Abound
|2:07:49 PM, Tuesday, May 24, 2011|
"Planets like company. No less than one in three of all planets around other stars found by NASA's Kepler space telescope are in multiple-planet systems. What's more, the sheer number of those systems suggests that they are more tranquil places than our own solar system, say astronomers working with the telescope.
Since it was launched just over 2 years ago, Kepler has found 116 systems with two planets, 45 with three, eight with four, one with five, and one with six planets, astronomer David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reported here today at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society. That's a total of 171 multiple-planet systems. "We thought we might see a few multiplanet systems," Latham says. "Instead, we found lots of them."
Kepler detects a planet when it passes in front of its parent star, as seen from Earth. Such transits produce minute, periodic dips in the brightness of the star. Kepler continuously monitors 165,000 stars to search for those transits.
The low expectation for multiple-planet systems was based on the fact that the eight planets in our own solar system do not orbit in exactly the same plane. For instance, the plane of Mercury's orbit is tilted by 7˚ relative to that of Earth. So if the solar system were viewed from a vast distance, if one planet produced transits, most others would not..."
Morgan Page - Fight For You
|1:19:49 PM, Tuesday, May 24, 2011|
Contractor Can't Account for $9.8 Million in Project to Aid Iraqi Farmers
|10:27:21 PM, Monday, May 23, 2011|
"USAID awarded a $343 million contract to Louis Berger Group in 2007 to help Iraqi farmers by promoting crop diversity, improving farmers’ access to information systems and providing technical assistance. An audit by the USAID inspector general has determined that the contractor mismanaged the program and couldn't account for almost $10 million in costs.
The Louis Berger Group failed to implement measurements for agricultural productivity, completely lacked results to demonstrate agribusiness loan increases, reported inaccurate results and millions in unsupported program costs.
The agribusiness contract was supposed to increase agricultural productivity by specific percentages with targeted crops, but the contractor never developed a method of measuring or reporting results. The program was also supposed to generate at least 40,000 agricultural jobs, but fell short of the minimum goal by 10,000. The contractor did not differentiate between full-time or part-time jobs and lacked documentation supporting job creation.
Louis Berger reported $172 million in increased sales for agriculture businesses, short of the $300 million goal, but did not provide adequate documentation for sales. Another aspect of the program was increasing agribusiness loans, which was completely absent from the contractor’s report..."
The Saudi Woman Who Took to the Driver's Seat
|7:23:23 PM, Monday, May 23, 2011|
"In a tough setback for aspiring Saudi female drivers, Saudi police have arrested female activist Manal al-Sharif, who boldly posted a video of herself behind the wheel online on Friday. Our Observer was with her for the symbolic drive.
More than 600,000 people watched the video of al-Sharif chatting with a friend as she drives around the eastern Saudi city of Khobar. The seemingly mundane scene is in fact anything but. Deeply conservative Saudi Arabia is the last country in the world to ban women from driving.
Al-Sharif was reportedly arrested on May 22 while driving, released for a few hours then taken back into custody. A Saudi security official said she is being accused of “violating public order”, and will be held for five days while the case is investigated. The video she made was removed from YouTube following her arrest, as was the Facebook page she created calling on Saudi women to collectively defy the driving ban on June 17.
Nevertheless, a new Facebook page was created almost immediately, and the video survived on video sharing site YouTube, re-posted by Al-Sharif’s supporters..."
Time-Lapse of German Shepard Puppy Growing Up
|4:55:20 PM, Monday, May 23, 2011|
President Obama's Car Gets Stuck Leaving the US Embassy in Dublin
|1:28:19 PM, Monday, May 23, 2011|
-- Haha! Someone just lost a job... Should have hired someone with experience driving lowered cars, huh? ;)
Louisville Woman Pulls Sword at Pizza Hut
|7:39:06 PM, Sunday, May 22, 2011|
"LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB Fox 41) -- Police say a woman involved in an argument at a Louisville Pizza Hut raised the stakes considerably when she tried to pull a sword.
It happened Thursday night, shortly after 9 p.m. at the Pizza Hut on 7th St. Rd., near Dixie Hwy.
According to an arrest report, police were called to the restaurant after they received reports that 29-year-old Wynika Mason was "causing trouble." When they got there, she allegedly began yelling at the officers.
An employee told the officers that, shortly before they arrived, Mason began yelling at him and told him that she had a sword on her person. The employee said that Mason, "began to raise it out of the sheath" when her brother seized it from her and put it in their vehicle outside.
Police say Mason told them that she did indeed have a sword and it was still in the vehicle. Officers recovered the sword, according to the arrest report.
Officers say customers and employees were both inside the Pizza Hut when the events occurred, and that the employees, "felt threatened by her behavior."
Mason was charged with disorderly conduct and menacing."
Nadia Ali - Rapture (Avicii Remix)
|5:35:04 PM, Sunday, May 22, 2011|
To Harvest Natural Gas From the Ocean, Shell Is Building the World's Largest Man-Made Floating Object
|4:56:37 PM, Sunday, May 22, 2011|
"Shell is making good on its promise to build the largest object ever to float on water, announcing Friday it would build the Prelude FLNG Project to harvest offshore natural gas fields. The gargantuan ship will suck up the equivalent of 110,000 barrels of oil per day.
The floating liquified natural gas facility will dwarf the biggest warships, weighing in at 600,000 metric tons. By contrast, the U.S.’ next-generation Ford-class supercarrier will displace 101,000 metric tons of water. Shell says its ship will be able to withstand a category 5 typhoon.
In some ways, it’s more of a mini-island than a ship, designed to be moored in the same spot off the northwest coast of Australia for 25 years. The facility will be one-third of a mile long — longer than five football fields laid end-to-end — and will contain 260,000 metric tons of steel, about five times the amount used to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The ship will chill the natural gas to -260° F to reduce its volume by 600 times, enabling it to be shipped to customers throughout Asia, according to Shell.
Shell did not disclose the cost of building the project, but said it would be built at Samsung Heavy Industries’ Geoje Island shipyards in South Korea, one of the few shipyards in the world capable of building such a monstrous vessel..."
-- Whoa! Check out the size comparison chart @ link.
A Defiant 'Spanish Revolution' (44 Photos)
|10:35:53 AM, Sunday, May 22, 2011|
"Since May 15, residents of many cities around Spain have been demonstrating against the country's ongoing financial crisis, its politicians, and its bankers. The spontaneous protests are the largest since the country plunged into recession in 2008, and they're made up mainly of young people who have set up camps in main squares across the country. Called "los indignados" (the indignant), the May 15 Movement, or simply 15-M, they are fueled by frustration with austerity measures, apparent indifference from politicians, and serious joblessness. Spain's unemployment rate for those under 25 stood at 43.5 percent as of February -- the highest youth unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union. As Spain enters an election weekend, this collection focuses on some recent scenes of dissent from around the country."
-- This barely got any media attention. Not surprising. Trouble for EU!
Virginia Girl Found Eating Herself in Cage in Mobile Home; Parents Brian and Shannon Gore Charged
|3:09:41 PM, Saturday, May 21, 2011|
"A young girl was found caged and attempting to eat herself in a mobile home in Virginia, and cops say her parents are responsible.
The malnourished girl, believed to be either 5 or 6, was discovered in a crib that was converted into a makeshift cage after police arrived at the home in Gloucester County to investigate a burglary last week.
The girl's parents, Brian and Shannon Gore, were arrested and charged with felony child abuse. The mother was also charged with attempted capital murder.
However, the gruesome twosome now faces first-degree murder charges after the remains of what authorities believe to be another child were found buried outside their mobile home.
"I've done this for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this in my life," Gloucester Sheriff's Maj. Darrell Warren said.
A month-old baby boy was also found in the home, but was in good condition. Both he and the older girl are now in the care of the county Department of Social Services.
The horrific find came as police investigated a robbery on April 17..."
-- Some people should be sterilized, or just shot, or both.
Jay Pharoah Doing Celebrity Impersonations
|2:58:19 PM, Saturday, May 21, 2011|
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