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Panthera: At least 500 jaguars lost their lives or habitat in Amazon fires

first_imgThe fires in the Amazon forest in Brazil and Bolivia this year have burned key habitats of at least 500 adult, resident jaguars as of September 17, experts at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, estimate. The numbers will continue to increase until the rains come, researchers say.In Bolivia in particular, the fires have so far destroyed over 2 million hectares of forest in one of South America’s key “catscape”, a region that Panthera has identified as having the highest predicted density of cat species on the continent.Panthera researchers also predict that many more jaguars will also likely starve or turn to killing livestock in neighboring ranches as a consequence of the fires, likely increasing conflict with the ranchers. The fires ravaging the Amazon forest in Brazil and Bolivia this year have burned key habitats of at least 500 adult, resident jaguars as of Sept. 17, rendering them dead or homeless, say experts at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization.“The number of homeless or dead jaguars has undoubtedly increased since Panthera’s estimate was released, and will continue to increase until the rains come,” Esteban Payan, Panthera’s South America regional director, told Mongabay in an email.To estimate the number of affected jaguars (Panthera onca), Panthera researchers used the total area of jaguar habitat burned, taken from burned areas reported by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and the Environmental Secretariat of the Governor’s office of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. They combined this with a jaguar density estimate of 2.5 jaguars per 100 square kilometers (39 square miles) derived from a 2018 study authored by jaguar experts.“Density from jaguar populations in central Amazonia, the work from my Ph.D., was more around 3 animals in 100 square kilometers. So again, this is ‘at least’ that number [500] of jaguars impacted,” Payan said.In Bolivia in particular, the fires have so far destroyed more than 2 million hectares (4.9 million acres) of forest in one of South America’s key “catscapes,” a region that Panthera has identified as having the highest predicted density of cat species on the continent. Some parts of Bolivia’s catscape are home to eight cat species, including the jaguar, puma (Puma concolor), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), margay (Leopardus wiedii), oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi), Geoffrey’s cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) and Pampas cat (Leopardus colocola).Map showing burned areas in Bolivia and wild cat presence. Image courtesy of Panthera.Some researchers estimate that millions of animals have likely been lost to the Amazon fires this year. But given the widespread and destructive nature of the fires this year, the exact number of jaguars killed is difficult to calculate. Panthera researchers, however, predict that hundreds of jaguars will starve or turn to killing livestock in neighboring ranches as a consequence of the fires, “where they will be hunted down,” Payan said.Increased interactions between jaguars and livestock will likely only intensify conflict between the animals and ranchers and farmers. This would throw a spanner in the efforts of conservationists who’ve been working to resolve this conflict for decades.“Jaguars with GPS collars from our partner Oncafari in the Brazilian Pantanal have already been captured and moved from the fires in an attempt to protect the cats,” Payan said.In addition to jaguars, Panthera has obtained reports and captured images of pumas and ocelots fleeing the fires, as well as of animals that burned to death, both small, slow-moving ones like turtles, tortoises and caimans, and fast-moving ones like marsh deer and peccaries. “Fires don’t burn in a straight line so many animals get trapped in circles of fire and many others die of thirst and heat even before fire touches them,” Payan said.Burned habitat in the Brazilian Pantana. Image by Oncafari.Fires not only destroy critical habitats, they also fragment forests, reducing connectivity between habitats that animals need to live and thrive. Moreover, repeated burning of the Amazon forest every year — almost entirely lit by humans to clear land for ranches, pastures or agriculture land — has compromised the forest’s ability to recover when some of the burned areas are eventually abandoned and allowed to regenerate, researchers have found.“The shock waves of these exceptionally large and, for the most part, human-lit fires are being felt not only by the wildlife and people of Brazil and Bolivia, but also those in Peru and Paraguay,” Howard Quigley, Panthera’s jaguar program and conservation science executive director, said in a statement. “These fires stand to directly impact the continent, and in the end, the health of the planet as they hurt one of the cradles of biodiversity and greatest counter forces against global warming.”Overall, the fires will affect Panthera’s efforts to create one of the world’s largest, contiguous jaguar corridors across South America’s Pantanal region. But Payan said that the team is hoping to address this by scaling up its cooperation with communities, first responders, local NGOs, and protected-area managers; better equipping rangers to manage fires in protected areas; reducing cattle losses to jaguars and increasing productivity on existing ranches to limit further deforestation; and working with landowners, businesses and governments to plan and manage lands responsibly.“Fire is now an intensified threat to jaguars and their associated biodiversity because of its intensity, speed and scale,” he said. “The intensity of destruction is nearly absolute, the speed of propagation implies that in minutes it can become nearly impossible to control, and as it will cover vast areas the scale of damage to the natural world is immense.”Marsh deer in Bolivia, one of the jaguar’s prey. Image by Juan Carlos Urgel.Banner image of a jaguar by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Amazon, Amazon Biodiversity, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Destruction, Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Deforestation, Fires, Forest Fires, Forests, Green, Jaguars, Mammals, Rainforests, Tropical Forests, wildfires, Wildlife center_img Article published by Shreya Dasguptalast_img read more

In a flip-flop, Uganda says it’ll allow a study for a dam at Murchison Falls

first_imgArticle published by terna gyuse The Ugandan government has announced that a feasibility study for a dam near the iconic Murchison Falls will go ahead, after previously rejecting the notion.The company that has applied for a permit for the feasibility study appears to have no track record with similar development.Environmentalists and tourism operators fear construction of a dam will threaten the richly biodiverse Murchison Falls National Park.Civil society groups have written to the Ugandan president urging him to permanently block the development of hydropower in Murchison Falls National Park and strengthen protection for the reserve. The Ugandan government has announced it will let a South African company carry out a feasibility study for a dam in Murchison Falls National Park, reversing an earlier cabinet decision and prompting a strong backlash from civil society.In June, the country’s Electricity Regulatory Authority called for public comment on a permit application filed by Bonang Power and Energy to build a 360 megawatt (MW) hydropower dam in the park, where the Nile River famously plunges 45 meters (150 feet) over an escarpment. There was an immediate outcry from environmental groups, tour operators and local communities concerned about the impact a dam would have on the falls and the ecology of the national park.By the end of the month, New Vision newspaper reported that government was abandoning the plan. Evelyn Anite, the state minister for privatization and investment, said, “We don’t agree with any investor destroying our natural resources. And I don’t expect any investor to be licensed to destroy a national treasure like Murchison falls or even operate in a wetland.”In August, the tourism minister, Ephraim Kamuntu, also weighed in with an emphatic no. “Cabinet took a decision at its latest sitting that there will be no construction of the hydropower dam in Murchison Falls National Park,” he told AFP. “Definitely we still need more electricity to power our expanding economy, but this project can go elsewhere, not in the park.”And that, it seemed, was that.But at a Dec. 3 press conference, the minister of energy and mineral development, Irene Muloni, said the decision not to pursue a hydro dam in the national park had been reviewed and a memorandum of understanding signed with Bonang to conduct a feasibility study after all. “In order to make a scientifically informed decision, Cabinet reviewed its decision yesterday [Dec. 2] and agreed that a feasibility study is undertaken on the Uhuru Falls site.”She stressed that the study would examine the feasibility of a dam on Uhuru Falls, a cataract 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the better-known Murchison Falls, created when the river jumped its banks during heavy flooding in 1962.The proposed dam site is in Uganda’s leading tourist attraction, part of the larger Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA) — 5,594 square kilometers (2,160 square miles) of protected area covered by a mixture of woodlands and savanna, with several high mountains rising above the canopy. It is drained by a number of small, seasonal rivers and an 80-kilometer (50-mile) stretch of the Nile.Tourists in Murchison Falls National Park. Image by Justin Raycraft via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)The MFCA has an exceptional variety of plant species and is home to hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius), elephants (Loxodonta africana) and Rothschild’s giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), as well as chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and black-and-white colobuses (Colobus spp.). More than 500 species of birds are found within the reserve, including threatened shoebills (Balaeniceps rex), saddle-billed storks (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) and lappet-faced vultures (Torgos tracheliotus).Significant numbers of people have resettled around the conservation area’s boundaries since the mid-2000s, returning from internal displacement camps following the departure of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army from the region. Still others have been drawn to the area by the promise of jobs linked to oil exploration here, putting some pressure on the park environment through hunting, farming, and gathering of fruit and wood for fuel.The government’s about-face on considering a dam in the area comes as no surprise to Sam Mucunguzi, national coordinator for the Ugandan NGO Citizens’ Concern Africa (CICOA). “The revival of the Murchison Falls dam project has been there all along, only that it has been silent to the public,” he told Mongabay. “It’s only recently when a journalist asked the minister of state for tourism about the project, that he mentioned about what government intends to do. The president is of late obsessed with power generation and I don’t think he has been briefed on alternative sources of electricity.”CICOA is one of a group of civil society organizations that wrote an open letter to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the end of November setting out their arguments against the plan for a dam.Referring to the government’s domestic and international commitments to biodiversity and conservation, the letter highlights the environmental and social significance of Murchison Falls National Park and the reserve’s vital role in protecting watersheds and nutrients, storing carbon and regulating the local climate.The CSOs also point out the purely economic value of preserving the park and adjacent forest reserves. A 2017 study by the government’s own National Environmental Management Agency calculated the total yearly value of timber and other wood for fuel; of fruit, honey and bushmeat; and of course tourism from the protected area at over 400 billion Ugandan shillings ($109 million).The Murchison Falls Conservation Area is already being encroached upon by oil exploration by France-based transnational Total. Three exploratory wells have been drilled within the boundaries of the reserve, with at least ten more expected to follow.“The impacts are immense and dangerous to ecosystems and general biodiversity. There’s the destruction of flora and fauna when constructing what are called oil roads. The opening of the roads in parks eases movement of poachers. Animals are affected because of noise from construction and have run away. The risk of an oil spill will definitely affect the water and vegetation greatly. When you read the ESIA report and see the mitigation measures in this regard, they are not specific and convincing,” said Mucunguzi.While there’s no risk of an oil spill from a hydro dam, the harm caused by new roads and construction, and eventually a reservoir and the unavoidable changes to the river’s flow will negatively impact the park.Rothschild’s giraffes are one of several threatened species found in Murchison Falls National Park. Image by Thomas Fuhrman via Wikicommons (CC BY-SA 4.0)The groups appealed directly to President Museveni to ask him to rule out construction of a dam anywhere in the MFCA and look to alternative ways to increase power generation.“Government’s desire to transform Uganda from a peasant to industrial economy within the next 22 years will require, among other things, increased power generation capacity and the consumption,” Mucunguzi said. “Government has ignored to look at … the smart and clean options of renewable energy generation for Uganda. Solar energy for instance is cheap, safe and clean, we have all year round good weather.”Meanwhile, the energy ministry has issued a statement saying Bonang Power and Energy is to lead a consortium including Norconsult, the Norwegian energy consultants, and Russia’s JSC Institute Hydro in carrying out a feasibility study for a dam on Uhuru Falls.There’s scant information about Bonang, and little evidence of any previous work on hydropower by the South African company — or indeed, evidence of any previous work at all. The South African companies’ registry reveals only that it was founded in 2014, deregistered two years later for failing to file annual returns, and re-activated in mid-2017. Its sole listed director, Ernest Moloi, is associated with more than 70 other companies, many with similarly hollow profiles. The company website appears to have been taken down, leaving only a Facebook page. The company’s listed phone number has been disconnected and emails bounced back.This has raised questions about the company’s capacity to carry out a feasibility study. The Electricity Regulation Authority told Mongabay by email that the application for a permit was “rejected on the basis of a financial evaluation of Bonang, legal conclusions, technical conclusions, and environmental and social conclusions” and it will have to apply again.Clarifying Norconsult’s role, Øystein Lilleland, the company’s head of global markets, said the Norwegian energy company had been approached as an internationally recognized independent consultant. “We can confirm that we have made a proposal and has been preferred as an independent consultant to review and update previous feasibilities and environmental & social studies for this project. The studies will eventually confirm whether the project is feasible, based on the environmental, social, technical and financial aspects.”Nalubaale Dam: hydroelectricity makes up more than three quarters of Uganda’s installed generating capacity. Image by Frederick Onyango via Wikicommons (CC BY 2.0)There are significant risks if the dam eventually goes ahead, says Enock Nimpamya of Action Coalition on Climate Change.“Once it’s constructed, it will likely affect the flow of water and the natural evolution of the site. It’s a natural process, and when you interfere with this … We had the same scenario near Jinja, when they constructed a dam near Owens Falls. We warned the government not to construct it, but immediately [after they did], the falls were affected.”Tourism operators fear the loss of an iconic site that attracts tens of thousands of visitors yearly. Nimpamya told Mongabay the dam will also affect the flow of water to Sudan and Egypt downstream, potentially provoking a diplomatic spat or even more serious conflict.“Then the other component is that adjacent communities will be affected in terms of fishing. The dam is likely to affect the movement of fish and their breeding grounds. Fishing-dependent communities will likely be affected in terms of having their incomes reduced.”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Banner image: Murchison Falls. Image by Rod Waddington via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Tennis : Sharapova ne sait toujours pas si elle jouera à Kockelscheuer

first_imgSa priorité, c’est 2020Sa priorité est donc clairement identifiée : “être en bonne santé” en vue de la saison prochaine. Et pour ça, elle prendra le temps qu’il faudra. “Je ne suis pas pressée. Le principal objectif est d’être en bonne santé, de me remettre au travail et de jouer une saison pleine en 2020” a-t-elle conclu.Julien Carette (avec AFP) Partager Bien que forfait cette semaine au tournoi de Linz (WTA International), Maria Sharapova était ce mardi en Autriche où elle a évoqué son futur.Présente à Linz ce mardi pour aller à la rencontre de ses fans et notamment signer pas mal d’autographes, Maria Sharapova (32 ans) a aussi répondu à quelques questions concernant son avenir. Et elle a notamment évoqué le Luxembourg Open (WTA International, du 12 au 20 octobre) où elle est toujours programmée la semaine prochaine.La joueuse russe, retombée au 137e rang mondial, a ainsi indiqué qu’elle pourrait « jouer la semaine prochaine » à Kockelscheuer mais qu’elle pourrait aussi « avoir besoin d’un peu plus de temps ». Ce qui signifierait donc un forfait au Luxembourg Open. « Je vais tester mon épaule (droite) en disputant des sets d’entraînement », a ajouté une Sharapova qui a été éloignée des courts de février à juin en raison d’une opération de son épaule douloureuse. « Cette dernière, c’est mon maillon faible depuis plusieurs années. Cette saison, c’est allé très mal. Je n’ai pas pu jouer la majeure partie de l’année »last_img read more

OOL on the Rocks

first_imgAn important survey of the origin-of-life (OOL) field has been published in Scientific American.  Robert Shapiro, a senior prize-winning chemist, cancer researcher, emeritus professor and author of books in the field, debunks the Miller experiment, the RNA World and other popular experiments as unrealistic dead ends.  Describing the wishful thinking of some researchers, he said, “In a form of molecular vitalism, some scientists have presumed that nature has an innate tendency to produce life’s building blocks preferentially, rather than the hordes of other molecules that can also be derived from the rules of organic chemistry.”Shapiro had been explaining that millions of organic molecules can form that are not RNA nucleotides.  These are not only useless to life, they get in the way and clog up the beneficial reactions.  He went on to describe how extrapolation from the Miller Experiment produced an unearned sense of euphoria among researchers: “By extrapolation of these results, some writers have presumed that all of life’s building could be formed with ease in Miller-type experiments and were present in meteorites and other extraterrestrial bodies.  This is not the case,” he warned in a section entitled, “The Soup Kettle Is Empty.”  He said that no experiment has produced amino acids with more than three carbons (life uses some with six), and no Miller-type experiment has ever produced nucleotides or nucleosides, essential for DNA and RNA.…the spontaneous appearance of chains of RNA on the early earth “would have been a near miracle.”Shapiro described in some detail the difficult steps that organic chemists employ to synthesize the building blocks of RNA, using conditions highly unrealistic on the primitive earth.  “The point was the demonstration that humans could produce, however inefficiently, substances found in nature,” he said.  “Unfortunately, neither chemists nor laboratories were present on the early Earth to produce RNA.”  Here, for instance, is how scientists had to work to create cytosine, one of the DNA bases:I will cite one example of prebiotic synthesis, published in 1995 by Nature and featured in the New York Times.  The RNA base cytosine was prepared in high yield by heating two purified chemicals in a sealed glass tube at 100 degrees Celsius for about a day.  One of the reagents, cyanoacetaldehyde, is a reactive substance capable of combining with a number of common chemicals that may have been present on the early Earth.  These competitors were excluded.  An extremely high concentration was needed to coax the other participant, urea, to react at a sufficient rate for the reaction to succeed.  The product, cytosine, can self-destruct by simple reaction with water.  When the urea concentration was lowered, or the reaction allowed to continue too long, any cytosine that was produced was subsequently destroyed.  This destructive reaction had been discovered in my laboratory, as part of my continuing research on environmental damage to DNA.  Our own cells deal with it by maintaining a suite of enzymes that specialize in DNA repair.There seems to be a stark difference between the Real World and the imaginary RNA World.  Despite this disconnect, Shapiro describes some of the hype the RNA World scenario generated when Gilbert first suggested it in 1986.  “The hypothesis that life began with RNA was presented as a likely reality, rather than a speculation, in journals, textbooks and the media,” he said.  He also described the intellectual hoops researchers have envisioned to get the scenario to work: freezing oceans, drying lagoons, dry deserts and other unlikely environments in specific sequences to keep the molecules from destroying themselves.  This amounts to attributing wish-fulfillment and goal-directed behavior to inanimate objects, as Shapiro makes clear with this colorful analogy:The analogy that comes to mind is that of a golfer, who having played a golf ball through an 18-hole course, then assumed that the ball could also play itself around the course in his absence.  He had demonstrated the possibility of the event; it was only necessary to presume that some combination of natural forces (earthquakes, winds, tornadoes and floods, for example) could produce the same result, given enough time.  No physical law need be broken for spontaneous RNA formation to happen, but the chances against it are so immense, that the suggestion implies that the non-living world had an innate desire to generate RNA.  The majority of origin-of-life scientists who still support the RNA-first theory either accept this concept (implicitly, if not explicitly) or feel that the immensely unfavorable odds were simply overcome by good luck.Realistically, unfavorable molecules are just as likely to form.  These would act like terminators for any hopeful molecules, he says.  Shapiro uses another analogy.  He pictures a gorilla pounding on a huge keyboard containing not only the English alphabet, but every letter of every language and all the symbol sets in a typical computer.  “The chances for the spontaneous assembly of a replicator in the pool I described above can be compared to those of the gorilla composing, in English, a coherent recipe for the preparation of chili con carne.”  That’s why Gerald Joyce, Mr. RNA-World himself, and Leslie Orgel, a veteran OOL researcher with Stanley Miller, concluded that the spontaneous appearance of chains of RNA on the early earth “would have been a near miracle.”The majority of origin-of-life scientists who still support the RNA-first theory either accept this concept (implicitly, if not explicitly) or feel that the immensely unfavorable odds were simply overcome by good luck.Boy, and all this bad news is only halfway through the article.  Does he have any good news?  Not yet; we must first agree with a ground rule stated by Nobel laureate Christian de Duve, who called for “a rejection of improbabilities so incommensurably high that they can only be called miracles, phenomena that fall outside the scope of scientific inquiry.”  That rules out starting with complex molecules like DNA, RNA, and proteins (see online book).From that principle, Shapiro advocated a return to scenarios with environmental cycles involving simple molecules.  These thermodynamic or “metabolism first” scenarios are only popular among about a third of OOL researchers at this time.  Notable subscribers include Harold Morowitz, Gunter Wachtershauser, Christian de Duve, Freeman Dyson and Shapiro himself.  Their hypotheses, too, have certain requirements that must be met: an energy source, boundaries, ways to couple the energy to the organization, and a chemical network or cycle able to grow and reproduce.  (The problems of genetics and heredity are shuffled into the future in these theories.)  How are they doing?  “Over the years, many theoretical papers have advanced particular metabolism first schemes, but relatively little experimental work has been presented in support of them,” Shapiro admits.  “In those cases where experiments have been published, they have usually served to demonstrate the plausibility of individual steps in a proposed cycle.”  In addition, “An understanding of the initial steps leading to life would not reveal the specific events that led to the familiar DNA-RNA-protein-based organisms of today.”  Nor would plausible prebiotic cycles prove that’s what happened on the early earth.  Success in the metabolism-first experiments would only contribute to hope that prebiotic cycles are plausible in principle, not that they actually happened.Nevertheless, Shapiro himself needed to return to the miracles he earlier rejected.  “Some chance event or circumstance may have led to the connection of nucleotides to form RNA,” he speculates.  Where did the nucleotides come from?  Didn’t he say their formation was impossibly unlikely?  How did they escape rapid destruction by water?  Those concerns aside, maybe nucleotides initially served some other purpose and got co-opted, by chance, in the developing network of life.  Showing that such thoughts represent little more than a pipe dream, though, he admits: “Many further steps in evolution would be needed to ‘invent’ the elaborate mechanisms for replication and specific protein synthesis that we observe in life today.”Time for Shapiro’s grand finale.  For an article predominantly discouraging and critical, his final paragraph is surprisingly upbeat.  Recounting that the highly-implausible big-molecule scenarios imply a lonely universe, he offers hope with the small-molecule alternative.  Quoting Stuart Kauffman, “If this is all true, life is vastly more probable than we have supposed.  Not only are we at home in the universe, but we are far more likely to share it with unknown companions.”Update  Letters to the editor appeared in Science1 the next day, debating the two leading theories of OOL.  The signers included most of the big names: Stanley Miller, Jeffrey Bada, Robert Hazen and others debating Gunter Wachtershauser and Claudia Huber.  After sifting through the technical jargon, the reader is left with the strong impression that both camps have essentially falsified each other.  On the primordial soup side, the signers picked apart details in a paper by the metabolism-first side.  Concentrations of reagants and conditions specified were called “implausible” and “exceedingly improbable.”Wachtershauser and Huber countered that the “prebiotic soup theory” requires a “protracted, mechanistically obscure self-organization in a cold, primitive ocean,” which they claim is more improbable than the volcanic environment of their own “pioneer organism” theory (metabolism-first).  It’s foolish to expect prebiotic soup products to survive in the ocean, of all places, “wherein after some thousand or million years, and under all manner of diverse influences, the magic of self-organization is believed to have somehow generated an unspecified first form of life.”  That’s some nasty jabbing between the two leading camps.1Letters, “Debating Evidence for the Origin of Life on Earth,” Science, 16 February 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5814, pp. 937 – 939, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5814.937c.Thank you, Robert Shapiro, for unmasking the lies we have been told for nearly a century.  The Miller Experiment, the RNA World, and all the hype of countless papers, articles, popular press pieces and TV animations are impossible myths.  We appreciate your help revealing why it’s all been hyped bunk.  Now finish the job and show that yours is no better.You know you cannot stay with small molecules forever.  You have not begun to bridge the canyon between metabolic cycles with small molecules to implausible genetic networks with large molecules (RNA, DNA and proteins).  Any way you try to close the gap, you are going to run into the very same criticisms you raised against the RNA-World storytellers.  You cannot invoke natural selection without accurate replication (see online book).Funny how these people presume that if they can just get molecules to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to the replicator stage, Charlie and Tinker Bell will take over from there.  Before you can say 4 Gya, biochemists emerge!Shapiro’s article is very valuable for exposing the vast difference between the hype over origin of life and its implausibilities – nay, impossibilities – in the chemistry of the real world.  His alternative is weak and fraught with the very same difficulties.  If a golf ball is not going to finish holes 14-18 on its own without help, it is also not going to finish holes 1-5.  If a gorilla is not going to type a recipe in English for chili con carne from thousands of keys on a keyboard, it is not going to type a recipe for hot soup either, even using only 1% of the keys.  Furthermore, neither the gorilla nor the golf ball are going to want to proceed further on the evolutionist project.  We cannot attribute an “innate desire” to a gorilla, a golf ball, or a sterile planet of chemicals to produce coded languages and molecular machines.Sooner or later, all the machinery, the replicators, the genetic codes and complex entropy-lowering processes are going to have to show up in the accounting.  Once Shapiro realizes that his alternative is just as guilty as the ones he criticizes, we may have an ardent new advocate of intelligent design in the ranks.  Join the winning side, Dr. Shapiro, before sliding with the losers and liars into the dustbin of intellectual history.(Visited 82 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

“The British Library” GC2M0AF GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – October 10, 2011

first_imgFrom the cache page with the caption, “It’s not just books that can be found here!”The husband and wife geocaching team of Nickie! & Brian~! hid the Multi-Cache “The British Library” (GC2M0AF) back in January of this year. Bryan writes, “I’ve been given co-credit for the cache, but it was really all Nickie’s work, I just tested out some of the maths involved. ”  The difficulty three, terrain one geocache was placed with the permission of the library.The geocache is one of the largest caches in Central London and quickly tallying up Favorite Points.  “The British Library” takes geocachers on a tour of the famed institution. Geocachers are directed around the library to gather clues. The answers to questions like, “Outside in the piazza, there is a statue of Newton. The last number on the plaque will give you A.”Geocachers then explore several more stops in the library to discover clues in paintings, plaques and signs. They even discover the visual illusion of Paradoxymoron to help lead them to the geocache.Once geocachers accumulate the answers to all of the clues, they plug the information into a formula found on the cache page to locate the geocache. The cache page reads, “Once at that location, you will find a small keysafe with directions back into the Library to find the final cache. Leave enough time to enter the building before it closes to sign the final log book! The final container is quite large (5 gallon) and can hold many swaps and Travel Bugs.”The statue of Newton at the British Library holds one of the cluesGeocachers who logged the cache wrote, “Wow – excellent and worthwhile cache.. loved the challenge on this one… and what a contatiner / location.. brilliant – 10 stars from us.”Continue your exploration of some of the most engaging geocaches from around the globe. Explore all the Geocaches of the Week on the Latitude 47 blog or view the Bookmark List on Geocaching.com. If you’ d like to nominate a Geocache of the Week send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache and the GC code to [email protected] SharePrint RelatedThe British Library — Geocache of the WeekJune 28, 2017In “Community”Top 10 Geocaches of the Week 2017December 27, 2017In “Geocache of the Week”TNT : Donjons & Mountains GCJPN4 GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – January 23, 2012January 23, 2012In “Community” Share with your Friends:Morelast_img read more

Facebook At Work: Helpful or a Hazard?

first_imgGuide to Performing Bulk Email Verification sarah perez A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Related Posts The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoscenter_img Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… It seems we’re always going back and forth on the subject of Facebook’s usefulness at work. Some would argue that Facebook is no longer just a time-wasting application for poking people and throwing sheep – it’s a critical part of their daily communications with co-workers, colleagues, and others within their industry. In fact, earlier this month, we reported on a study that showed the growing acceptance of social networking applications in the workplace. The study noted that nearly half of I.T. professionals now saw Facebook as one of the apps that had business value. Yet today, there’s new information being released that seems to say something different about the state of social networking applications in the workplace. According to Nucleus Research, Facebook causes a 1.5% decrease in employee productivity. Facebook at Work = Lost Productivity?According to the Nucleus Research survey, employers are losing 1.5 workers per 100 in employee productivity to the supposed time-wasting activity known as “Facebooking.” To reach that number, the company surveyed a random sampling of 237 office workers. The findings revealed that nearly two-thirds of those who visit Facebook do so during business hours and they stay on the site for an average of minutes per day when they do. Despite what you’ve heard touted about the necessity of Facebook in today’s business world, those responding to this survey overwhelmingly admitted they didn’t see any business reason for using the site. In total, 87% of respondents basically said their time on Facebook at work had no business-related purpose. Of course, given the small sample size of this survey, it’s hard to form any definitive conclusions…although that hasn’t stopped Nucleus Research from doing so. They’re suggesting that companies “evaluate their Facebook policies and the cost to the organization…as today blocking Facebook may actually result in a 1.5 percent gain in productivity.” A Second OpinionWe think that Nucleus Research isn’t seeing the bigger picture here, so we’d like to counter their research with some findings from the University of Melbourne. U of M professor Dr. Brent Coker also surveyed a small sample of office workers (300 to be exact) and came to a rather different conclusion. He found that people who took small breaks between tasks were 9% more productive than their colleagues who did not. “It gives them a chance to reset their concentration,” says Coker. That means that companies who block access to social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are actually inadvertently decreasing employee productivity. Besides, we hate to break the news to Nucleus Research, but employees have always found ways to take these sorts of small mental breaks at work. Before social networks – heck, before computers, even – workers would typically gather around the water cooler for some mindless banter. Others take cigarette breaks, head to the vending machines, or stop by a co-worker’s office for chit-chat as they make their way through the office. Employees don’t need Facebook to goof off, you see. But out of all the ways to take a break at work, Facebook really seems to be the least offensive – especially if the employee has built up a work-related network of friends and colleagues on the site. Who knows? They might even find themselves chatting about work while on Facebook!At the end of the day, though, this isn’t a simple black or white issue. Sometimes using Facebook may be productive for employees, sometimes it’s not. Either way, the knee-jerk reaction from organizations shouldn’t be to simply block access to the social network. Perhaps businesses should just focus on rewarding the employees who perform their jobs well and disciplining those who don’t do their work? That seems like a more reasonable way to stimulate employee productivity, don’t you agree? Tags:#Facebook#Trends#web last_img read more

Saina ends ‘friend’ Anna Rice’s career with a defeat

first_imgShe used to hand out tips to Saina Nehwal until just four years ago and an emotionally overwhelmed Anna Rice could not stop the tears from flowing when she ended her career with a loss against the Indian ace at the Commonwealth Games here.A good friend of Saina, the 30-year-old Canadian shuttler recalled the days when she played with her, helping the Indian in little ways to become a better player.Anna, who went down 7-21 10-21 to the top seeded crowd favourite in the quarterfinals of women’s singles last night, said she still loves the game but it was time to quit.”It is very emotional for me but the feeling is yet to settle in,” Anna said, tears welling up in her eyes.”I wanted to play for some time more, I mean I love the game but I guess I can’t keep up with these young girls anymore,” she added.Anna and Saina became friends in 2006. Saina had started taking her first steps to the stardom she enjoys now but Anna had already become an Olympian at that time.The world number 31 Canadian said she has seen her friend grow.”She is a player who has matured beyond her age. I started going for international tours at 18-19 but look at her, she was on her own when she was just 15 years old,” Rice said.”I remember she used to complain that she is losing in three games and I used to tell her that it is a process,” she added.advertisementAnna said Saina’s success has raised the profile of the sport.”Saina’s growing stature is good for the sport in India.As I see it, the gender equality when it comes to sport is not the same in India. Saina’s success will increase the profile of the sport as a whole in India and that is good for badminton also,” Anna said. .Saina also acknowledged Anna’s contribution to her career.”We have been friends for quite sometime. We had a lot of fun together. When I had started playing the qualifying rounds, we became friends,” she recalled.”It was very important to know about the court and know about doubles. She helped me at that time. We used to practice together and play at international level. It helped improve my reflexes and drives.”She even used to sit behind me, guiding me and giving me advice about the weaknesses of my opponents. I didn’t have a coach at that time and I didn’t know anybody,” Saina said.Asked about what she plans to do next, Anna said she would concentrate on coaching young Canadian shuttlers.”I am associated with a coaching job in a non-profit organisation called ‘Choose Again’ in Vancouver. I will concentrate on coaching. I will also spend a lot of time with my family, let’s see how the next phase pans out,” she said.Anna has been playing professional badminton for more than a decade.She won the 2009 US Open Champion and represented Canada at the International level for over 12 years, including the 2004 Athens Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as several World Championships.At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Anna became the first female singles player from a Pan-American country to achieve a top-16 finish.She won the Canadian National Championships in 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009.last_img read more