Saturday, May 17, 2008

Soaring Over the Alps on Homemade Jet Wings

By Dave Demerjian May 16, 2008

Playing to a mesmerized audience, Swiss pilot and adventurer (some might say nutcase) Yves Rossy has soared above the Alps with homemade jet-powered wings strapped to his back.

Rossy, an extreme sports guy who has spent years assembling his wings, casually stepped out of an airplane at 7,500 feet, unfolded the wings and quickly passed from free fall to mellow glide. He then fired up the wings' engines and accelerated to more than 180 mph.

As if that weren't cool enough, Rossy showed off a bit, making a few dives, some figure eights and a 360-degree barrel roll before landing at an airfield near Lake Geneva.

"That was to impress the girls," he said after the five-minute flight.

It's not your average DIY project, but then again Rossy doesn't seem to be your average guy. One look at the video proves that.


Fusionman, as the 47-year-old adventurer calls himself, is intimately familiar with flight. As a military pilot he spent years flying Hunter, Tiger F-5 and Mirage III jets, and he flies airliners for Swiss International Airlines.

He's spent several years developing the carbon fiber wing, which is eight feet long and features four German jet engines that provide 200 pounds of thrust. Rossy and his sponsors, which include the Swiss watch company Hublot, have spent $190,000 on the project, and with no plans to bring the wing to market, there's no guarantee they'll get a return on their investment.

The flight above the Alps was a big test for Fusionman and his wings, and it went off without a hitch. His mother wasn't even worried, explaining to the Associated Press, "He knows what he's doing."

But it hasn't always been smooth sailing -- er, flying -- for Rossy. Damage to a set of test wings in 2007 forced him to build another prototype, and he lost control during a jump three years ago and didn't deploy his chute until he was a mere 1,500 feet above the ground.

Soaring above the Alps is only the start. Rossy is planning to cross the English Channel -- a flight of about 23 miles -- by the end of the year. But his dream is to fly over the

Friday, May 16, 2008

How to Escape From a Black Hole

Written by Nancy Atkinson

According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, black holes are regions of space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. And in the 1970's physicist Stephen Hawking asserted that any information sucked inside a black hole would be permanently lost. But now, researchers at Penn State have shown that information can be recovered from black holes.

A fundamental part of quantum physics is that information cannot be lost, so Hawking's claim has been debated. His idea was generally accepted by physicists until the late 1990s, when many began to doubt the assertion. Even Hawking himself renounced the idea in 2004. Yet no one, until now, has been able to provide a plausible mechanism for how information might escape from a black hole. A team of physicists led by Abhay Ashtekar, say their findings expand space-time beyond its assumed size, providing room for information to reappear.

Ashtekar used an analogy from Alice in Wonderland: "When the Cheshire cat disappears, his grin remains," he said. "We used to think it was the same way with black holes. Hawking's analysis suggested that at the end of a black hole's life, even after it has completely evaporated away, a singularity, or a final edge to space-time, is left behind, and this singularity serves as a sink for unrecoverable information."

But the Penn State team suggest that singularities do not exist in the real world. "Information only appears to be lost because we have been looking at a restricted part of the true quantum-mechanical space-time," said Ashtekar. "Once you consider quantum gravity, then space-time becomes much larger and there is room for information to reappear in the distant future on the other side of what was first thought to be the end of space-time."

According to Ashtekar, space-time is not a continuum as physicists once believed. Instead, it is made up of individual building blocks, just as a piece of fabric, though it appears to be continuous, is made up of individual threads. "Once we realized that the notion of space-time as a continuum is only an approximation of reality, it became clear to us that singularities are merely artifacts of our insistence that space-time should be described as a continuum."

To conduct their studies, the team used a two-dimensional model of black holes to investigate the quantum nature of real black holes, which exist in four dimensions. That's because two-dimensional systems are simpler to study mathematically. But because of the close similarities between two-dimensional black holes and spherical four-dimensional black holes, the team believes that this approach is a general mechanism that can be applied in four dimensions. The group now is pursuing methods for directly studying four-dimensional black holes.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tape Rotation

Offsite Tape Storage and Tape Rotation

If a disaster strikes is your company's data safe? Do you store all of your data in one location? How long would it take you to recover and get back to business? A media vault or tape vault service helps protect your data in the event that disaster strikes.
Off-site tape storage vaults are climate controlled locations with very strict tolerances for temperature and humidity to prolong the life of the tape. These locations also have the fire protection and physical security you expect with any off-site storage facility.

Our uniformed security professionals pickup your backup tapes on a regular schedule to minimize lost data. They will also bring an old one to be used again. The tapes are scanned for tracking and to document their location on each step of the process. Tapes are then transported in a secure vehicles to our media vault facility. This tape rotation assures you of having a recent copy of your data.

In the event that your tape is needed anytime day or night, simply notify us and we will deliver the tape to your disaster recovery location.

Record Nations makes finding the right tape rotation service easy. We get you up to four competitive quotes with one simple request.
Is a Plane Boarding Pass a Threat?

We have looked at the stub from the boarding pass and wondered what to do with it. You most likely have found two or three in the seat pocket from the seats prior holders. But is the information dangerous?

Alone no, but it gives enough insight into you to get everything an identity thief needs. They get your name, a good idea of your home town and some recent travel information. The thief uses these bits of information to get more form unsuspecting customer service reps.

Always shred everything with your name or any other personally identifying information.

Read More.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

china

3 Frontiers in Earthquake Tech to Aid China—and Help the U.S.
From a string of GPS units embedded along the California faults to motion-sensor rigs deployed across Japan, researchers have already set their sights on the next generation of earthquake prevention. Could authorities in rural China have implemented new strategies to avert some of this week’s tragedy? And will a detection system for America’s aging infrastructure be ready before the next big one?


Rescue workers in China’s Sichuan province searched for survivors on Tuesday as researchers the world over continue to hunt for solutions. (Photograph by AFP via Getty Images)

struck by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake two days ago, it was the latest in a string of disasters offered the world over by Mother Nature. Now it has unraveled into a full-blown crisis. The official death toll has passed 12,000, but experts believe it will climb beyond 18,000. A number of factors are contributing to the fatalities, such as blocked roadways and a series of at least 30 aftershocks in Sichuan province. The quake itself is no surprise—the region is well-known for its seismic activity—but the persistent threat of earthquakes and, despite decades of research, the lack of warning technology, is alarming. So what can scientists, engineers and lawmakers do to prepare for the next shockwave?


Can a network of GPS sensors store enough data online to scout the Bay Area's looming quake? And could the rig work in the Chinese countryside?

EarthScope's array of 400 unmanned seismometers and more than 125 stationary GPS instruments is beginning to blanket the U.S. for quake data collection. (Photographs Courtesy of EarthScope)Geologists who specialize in earthquakes have become expert gamblers. By analyzing seismic data from sensors and historical records of past events, researchers attempt to calculate the odds in a given region within a specific timeframe. But that timeframe is generally measured in decades—or even centuries. For example, it's estimated that, on average, San Francisco's Hayward fault generates an earthquake every 140 years—and we just passed the 140-year mark. "That would basically be our equivalent of the Kobe earthquake that hit Japan in '95," says Michael Blanpied, associate coordinator of the Earthquake Hazards Program at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). "That led to 5000 deaths." So while a major quake in San Francisco is no certainty this year, or even in the next decade, the odds are getting worse, and the danger harder to ignore.

In Sichuan province, the danger was clear. A magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit the region in 1933, killing more than 9000 people, and geologists have detected smaller events with relative frequency. "We estimated the seismic hazard and risk for that region," says Kaye Shedlock, who worked with China when she headed the USGS's hazard and risk program. "It's riddled with large faults, to accommodate that sort of motion. It moves more often than our San Andreas fault." Compared to some areas that might expect an interval of a century or more between major earthquakes, then, the Sichuan Basin is an extremely active spot. Unfortunately, it also appears to lack the level of monitoring required for accurate forecasting. "In the sliding scale of where you put your resources," Shedlock says, "that's an area where it's difficult to monitor—difficult to get to, because of the mountains—and it's less populated than other vulnerable cities, like Beijing."

The key to forecasting is data, which means a comprehensive, unified monitoring system, which is what Shedlock is trying to provide for North America. She's the program director for EarthScope, a National Science Foundation–funded effort to install thousands of sensors throughout the continent. The instruments range from portable seismometers to clusters of stationary GPS receivers deployed along known fault lines. With all of EarthScope's data freely available online, Shedlock hopes to improve our understanding of the continent's seismic activity—and improve the state of the art of forecasting. More sensors and better analysis could narrow the window for specific threats, and provide more accurate damage estimates and long-term warnings. Ultimately, more data can only be gathered by a larger, more sophisticated network of sensors. Most of the sensors in the U.S. are currently gathered in the western part of the country, while Shedlock expects China to eventually develop its own unified system. But for now, population density remains paramount there, which means Beijing is heavily monitored, while rural areas, such as Sichuan province, remain in the dark.


Seconds to Impact /// Detection
As China staggers, will Japan's new motion monitors set the world on the path to quake prediction? And can the U.S. get its early warning system up and running fast enough?

Japan's early warning system rigs seismographs into the ground to provide detailed estimates within 20 seconds of an earthquake occurrence. (Images Courtesy of Japan Meteorological Agency)Last October, Japan rolled out the world's first national early warning system for earthquakes. Less sophisticated systems of the past included motion sensors that, in the event of strong movement, would cause bullet trains to brake. Now the system is designed to detect an earthquake—and quickly project the level of shaking in surrounding provinces. Alarms will sound, air traffic controllers will be alerted, and lives, potentially, will be saved. But when the warning comes, the threat won't be far behind. Seismic waves travel at an average of 6 kilometers (about 3.7 miles) per second, covering hundreds of miles in a single minute. That's enough time to warn students to duck under their desks, and possibly enough time to clear a bridge or stop a train. But it isn't enough time to evacuate a building. If China had the resources for an early warning system similar to Japan's—even one exponentially larger—it likely would not have helped the 900 students trapped in a collapsed school in Sichuan province, or the thousands buried in buildings throughout the region. To save them, researchers would need to be able to predict an earthquake minutes or hours before the shockwave hit.

"Earthquake prediction is one of the holy grails of science," Shedlock says. "The Chinese worked much harder at this than us, and appeared to have early successes. Then another earthquake happened that didn't behave like the previous one." In the course of evaluating and authorizing earthquake research, the USGS has spent decades following attempts to predict quakes. "The research being done spans the spectrum—from serious, scholarly, scientific research, to pure speculation," says Blanpied. For example, when geologists have created small earthquakes in the lab, they've noticed an acceleration of the sliding along the fault, just before the quake hits. But every attempt to detect this acceleration has failed to produce solid predictive data. Despite a long-running experiment in Parkfield, Calif., which included highly sensitive instrumentation, the only evidence of the magnitude 6 earthquake that finally hit in 2004 was the earthquake itself.

So while prediction remains something of a scientific dead end, the USGS is working with researchers in California to develop an early warning system similar to Japan's. The three-year study will wrap up next year, but the results already appear promising. The University of California at Berkeley's ElarmS system, which uses data from the state's existing seismic network, is currently in the pre-prototype stage. However, Blanpied says that when ElarmS was tested on a magnitude 5 quake, it could have determined shaking some 15 seconds before it started. The precise amount of advance notice depends on a site's relation to the epicenter, but considering the distance between Los Angeles and the San Andreas fault, a similar system could provide the city with what Blanpied calls "a fair amount of warning time." Early earthquake warning in the U.S. would require upgrades to the existing monitoring system, as well as increased manpower, but it's feasible. In China, though, it's a distant prospect.


Last Resort /// Engineering
How can next-generation materials science help quakeproof American infrastructure? And does rural China have a low-tech option? More than high-tech solutions, the biggest preventative measure in Sichuan province—given the rural population impact registered at right—may have been fixing old infrastructure. (Photograph by Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images; Map Courtesy of USGS)

Whether you can forecast an earthquake decades before it hits or warn the public seconds in advance, there's no way to stop it from happening. So the best way to prepare for an earthquake is to prepare your infrastructure. Researchers are developing materials, such as flexible concrete that will bend before it breaks, that can absorb the energy of sudden shaking. For critical infrastructure, such as bridges and dams, a more malleable concrete could save lives and money, but the research and the materials can be costly. Other research involves isolating the energy from the ground movement, creating a kind of shock absorber for a home, or allowing towering retail shelves (think Home Depot) to rattle without tipping over. In some cases, a lower-tech fix can provide significant resistance. Placing strips of nearly tearproof fabric between the layers of an adobe structure could essentially tie a building together. Even a traditional wood-frame house or building might stand up to shaking better than a concrete one. In other words, if your infrastructure is built using the right materials, there's a better chance it will survive an earthquake. Or at the very least, it may not land on your head.

But when it comes to nonreinforced masonry buildings, that's exactly what happens. From three-story brownstones to mid-size concrete office buildings, many of the structures in the U.S. that were built from the beginning to the middle of the last century are extremely vulnerable to earthquakes. Building codes vary from state to state (and country to country, for that matter), but as Blanpied points out, "If a magnitude 5 hit near Manhattan, it would be a disaster. Buildings would topple over." Easy as it is to criticize Chinese authorities for not retrofitting or reconstructing the buildings that collapsed in this week's earthquake, the cost of infrastructure rehabilitation is always daunting.

So what could China have done to prepare for a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in a relatively rural region, while still focusing on protecting the millions more in cities like Beijing? More sensors could have allowed for better forecasting, and an early warning system may have saved some lives. But the biggest problem may have been aging infrastructure. More quake-resistant materials, along with responsible building codes, could have at least mitigated the catastrophe. And what's true in China is true in the U.S.—securing our infrastructure requires significant resources, and a groundswell of political will. In other words, preparing for the worst is easily said, and rarely done.

china

3 Frontiers in Earthquake Tech to Aid China—and Help the U.S.
From a string of GPS units embedded along the California faults to motion-sensor rigs deployed across Japan, researchers have already set their sights on the next generation of earthquake prevention. Could authorities in rural China have implemented new strategies to avert some of this week’s tragedy? And will a detection system for America’s aging infrastructure be ready before the next big one?


Rescue workers in China’s Sichuan province searched for survivors on Tuesday as researchers the world over continue to hunt for solutions. (Photograph by AFP via Getty Images)

struck by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake two days ago, it was the latest in a string of disasters offered the world over by Mother Nature. Now it has unraveled into a full-blown crisis. The official death toll has passed 12,000, but experts believe it will climb beyond 18,000. A number of factors are contributing to the fatalities, such as blocked roadways and a series of at least 30 aftershocks in Sichuan province. The quake itself is no surprise—the region is well-known for its seismic activity—but the persistent threat of earthquakes and, despite decades of research, the lack of warning technology, is alarming. So what can scientists, engineers and lawmakers do to prepare for the next shockwave?


Can a network of GPS sensors store enough data online to scout the Bay Area's looming quake? And could the rig work in the Chinese countryside?

EarthScope's array of 400 unmanned seismometers and more than 125 stationary GPS instruments is beginning to blanket the U.S. for quake data collection. (Photographs Courtesy of EarthScope)Geologists who specialize in earthquakes have become expert gamblers. By analyzing seismic data from sensors and historical records of past events, researchers attempt to calculate the odds in a given region within a specific timeframe. But that timeframe is generally measured in decades—or even centuries. For example, it's estimated that, on average, San Francisco's Hayward fault generates an earthquake every 140 years—and we just passed the 140-year mark. "That would basically be our equivalent of the Kobe earthquake that hit Japan in '95," says Michael Blanpied, associate coordinator of the Earthquake Hazards Program at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). "That led to 5000 deaths." So while a major quake in San Francisco is no certainty this year, or even in the next decade, the odds are getting worse, and the danger harder to ignore.

In Sichuan province, the danger was clear. A magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit the region in 1933, killing more than 9000 people, and geologists have detected smaller events with relative frequency. "We estimated the seismic hazard and risk for that region," says Kaye Shedlock, who worked with China when she headed the USGS's hazard and risk program. "It's riddled with large faults, to accommodate that sort of motion. It moves more often than our San Andreas fault." Compared to some areas that might expect an interval of a century or more between major earthquakes, then, the Sichuan Basin is an extremely active spot. Unfortunately, it also appears to lack the level of monitoring required for accurate forecasting. "In the sliding scale of where you put your resources," Shedlock says, "that's an area where it's difficult to monitor—difficult to get to, because of the mountains—and it's less populated than other vulnerable cities, like Beijing."

The key to forecasting is data, which means a comprehensive, unified monitoring system, which is what Shedlock is trying to provide for North America. She's the program director for EarthScope, a National Science Foundation–funded effort to install thousands of sensors throughout the continent. The instruments range from portable seismometers to clusters of stationary GPS receivers deployed along known fault lines. With all of EarthScope's data freely available online, Shedlock hopes to improve our understanding of the continent's seismic activity—and improve the state of the art of forecasting. More sensors and better analysis could narrow the window for specific threats, and provide more accurate damage estimates and long-term warnings. Ultimately, more data can only be gathered by a larger, more sophisticated network of sensors. Most of the sensors in the U.S. are currently gathered in the western part of the country, while Shedlock expects China to eventually develop its own unified system. But for now, population density remains paramount there, which means Beijing is heavily monitored, while rural areas, such as Sichuan province, remain in the dark.


Seconds to Impact /// Detection
As China staggers, will Japan's new motion monitors set the world on the path to quake prediction? And can the U.S. get its early warning system up and running fast enough?

Japan's early warning system rigs seismographs into the ground to provide detailed estimates within 20 seconds of an earthquake occurrence. (Images Courtesy of Japan Meteorological Agency)Last October, Japan rolled out the world's first national early warning system for earthquakes. Less sophisticated systems of the past included motion sensors that, in the event of strong movement, would cause bullet trains to brake. Now the system is designed to detect an earthquake—and quickly project the level of shaking in surrounding provinces. Alarms will sound, air traffic controllers will be alerted, and lives, potentially, will be saved. But when the warning comes, the threat won't be far behind. Seismic waves travel at an average of 6 kilometers (about 3.7 miles) per second, covering hundreds of miles in a single minute. That's enough time to warn students to duck under their desks, and possibly enough time to clear a bridge or stop a train. But it isn't enough time to evacuate a building. If China had the resources for an early warning system similar to Japan's—even one exponentially larger—it likely would not have helped the 900 students trapped in a collapsed school in Sichuan province, or the thousands buried in buildings throughout the region. To save them, researchers would need to be able to predict an earthquake minutes or hours before the shockwave hit.

"Earthquake prediction is one of the holy grails of science," Shedlock says. "The Chinese worked much harder at this than us, and appeared to have early successes. Then another earthquake happened that didn't behave like the previous one." In the course of evaluating and authorizing earthquake research, the USGS has spent decades following attempts to predict quakes. "The research being done spans the spectrum—from serious, scholarly, scientific research, to pure speculation," says Blanpied. For example, when geologists have created small earthquakes in the lab, they've noticed an acceleration of the sliding along the fault, just before the quake hits. But every attempt to detect this acceleration has failed to produce solid predictive data. Despite a long-running experiment in Parkfield, Calif., which included highly sensitive instrumentation, the only evidence of the magnitude 6 earthquake that finally hit in 2004 was the earthquake itself.

So while prediction remains something of a scientific dead end, the USGS is working with researchers in California to develop an early warning system similar to Japan's. The three-year study will wrap up next year, but the results already appear promising. The University of California at Berkeley's ElarmS system, which uses data from the state's existing seismic network, is currently in the pre-prototype stage. However, Blanpied says that when ElarmS was tested on a magnitude 5 quake, it could have determined shaking some 15 seconds before it started. The precise amount of advance notice depends on a site's relation to the epicenter, but considering the distance between Los Angeles and the San Andreas fault, a similar system could provide the city with what Blanpied calls "a fair amount of warning time." Early earthquake warning in the U.S. would require upgrades to the existing monitoring system, as well as increased manpower, but it's feasible. In China, though, it's a distant prospect.


Last Resort /// Engineering
How can next-generation materials science help quakeproof American infrastructure? And does rural China have a low-tech option? More than high-tech solutions, the biggest preventative measure in Sichuan province—given the rural population impact registered at right—may have been fixing old infrastructure. (Photograph by Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images; Map Courtesy of USGS)

Whether you can forecast an earthquake decades before it hits or warn the public seconds in advance, there's no way to stop it from happening. So the best way to prepare for an earthquake is to prepare your infrastructure. Researchers are developing materials, such as flexible concrete that will bend before it breaks, that can absorb the energy of sudden shaking. For critical infrastructure, such as bridges and dams, a more malleable concrete could save lives and money, but the research and the materials can be costly. Other research involves isolating the energy from the ground movement, creating a kind of shock absorber for a home, or allowing towering retail shelves (think Home Depot) to rattle without tipping over. In some cases, a lower-tech fix can provide significant resistance. Placing strips of nearly tearproof fabric between the layers of an adobe structure could essentially tie a building together. Even a traditional wood-frame house or building might stand up to shaking better than a concrete one. In other words, if your infrastructure is built using the right materials, there's a better chance it will survive an earthquake. Or at the very least, it may not land on your head.

But when it comes to nonreinforced masonry buildings, that's exactly what happens. From three-story brownstones to mid-size concrete office buildings, many of the structures in the U.S. that were built from the beginning to the middle of the last century are extremely vulnerable to earthquakes. Building codes vary from state to state (and country to country, for that matter), but as Blanpied points out, "If a magnitude 5 hit near Manhattan, it would be a disaster. Buildings would topple over." Easy as it is to criticize Chinese authorities for not retrofitting or reconstructing the buildings that collapsed in this week's earthquake, the cost of infrastructure rehabilitation is always daunting.

So what could China have done to prepare for a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in a relatively rural region, while still focusing on protecting the millions more in cities like Beijing? More sensors could have allowed for better forecasting, and an early warning system may have saved some lives. But the biggest problem may have been aging infrastructure. More quake-resistant materials, along with responsible building codes, could have at least mitigated the catastrophe. And what's true in China is true in the U.S.—securing our infrastructure requires significant resources, and a groundswell of political will. In other words, preparing for the worst is easily said, and rarely done.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't Forget Tortoise Day

American Tortoise Rescue Celebrates World Turtle Day May 23rd



Malibu, Calif. – May 12, 2008 – American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the rescue, rehabilitation, adoption and protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring World Turtle Day on May 23rd. Featured in Chase's Book of Annual Events, the day was created as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, married founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals and especially reptiles.

"World Turtle Day was started to increase respect and knowledge for the world's oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the exotic food industry, habitat destruction and the cruel pet trade," says Tellem. "We are seeing smaller and smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world"

Tellem and Thompson note that experts predict the complete disappearance of these creatures within the next 50 years. They recommend that adults and children do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation.

· Never buy a turtle or tortoise as it increases demand from the wild. Adopt from a rescue.
· Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless it is sick or injured. If they are crossing a busy street, pick them up and send them in the same direction they were going – if you try to make them go back, they will turn right around again.
· Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles.
· Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control department.
· Report any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches being sold. This is illegal everywhere in the U.S.

ATR offers permanent sanctuary to injured, abandoned and lost turtles and tortoises, as well as temporary housing for those confiscated by law enforcement. The ones that are too ill or abused for adoption remain in the care of ATR permanently. Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes. Because of ATR's activities on the Internet and direct mail, the rescue enjoys a positive reputation among international humane organizations, federal and state animal protection agencies, reptile lovers and the general public. ATR assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles.

"Outlaw vendors at the beach, at downtown Mercados and at Asian live food markets throughout the U.S. are a major problem for turtles, especially the hatchling 'red eared slider' water turtles. These have an almost 100% mortality rate due to ignorance about their care," Tellem says.

"Our ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world. But our first job is here in the U.S. where pet stores and reptile shows sell illegal hatchling tortoises of all species," says Thompson "People who are unfamiliar with their proper care run a real risk of contracting salmonella from these turtles."

For answers to questions, adoption forms, information sheets and other information visit American Tortoise Rescue online at www.tortoise.com or by sending e-mail to info@tortoise.com.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pacific Grove

May 9 - Pacific Grove Bans Polystyrene Food Packaging


The Pacific Grove City Council has voted unanimously to ban foamed polystyrene takeout food containers, joining a number of California cities that have done so in the past year.

Kevin Howe of the Monterey County Herald writes that it had already been policy to not use polystyrene in city facilities:

Polystyrene foam "is highly durable, persisting longer than any type of litter," City Manager Jim Colangelo said in a report to the council. It is lightweight, and its tendency to break into tiny pieces causes it to float or be blown into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where birds and other animals eat it, often with fatal results. Biodegradeable takeout packaging made of paper, sugarcane, corn by-products and potato starch is available locally, Colangelo said, and the council made it city policy in 1989 to not purchase or use polystyrene if biodegradeable alternatives are available.

The Sahara

Sahara made slow transition from green to desert

A picture taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Terra satelliteon shows dust blowing northward out of the Sahara Desert and over the Mediterranean Sea. The Sahara became the world's biggest hot desert some 2,700 years ago after a very slow fade from green, according to a new study which clashes with the theory that desertification came abruptly.


The Sahara became the world's biggest hot desert some 2,700 years ago after a very slow fade from green, according to a new study which clashes with the theory that desertification came abruptly.

Six thousand years ago, the massive arid region dominating northern Africa was quite green, a patchwork of trees and savannas as well as many sparkling lakes.

The region, larger than Australia, also was inhabited, according to the European-US-Canadian team of scientists behind a study in Science dated May 9.

Most of the physical elements that could tell the tale of the Sahara's geographic evolution have been lost. The scientists studied layers of sediment in one of the largest remaining Sahara lakes, Yoa, in a remote spot in northern Chad, which took them back through six millennia of climate history.

They looked at sediments, did soil tests and reviewed biological indicators such as plant and tree pollen and spores that were present before the desert encroached. They also studied the remains of aquatic microorganisms.

Their findings contradicted previous modeling that indicated a rapid collapse of vegetation in the region in a sudden end to the African Humid Period, about 5,500 years ago, said Stefan Kropelin, a geologist at the Prehistoric Archaeology Institute of the University of Cologne who took part in the new study.

In 2000, a study by Peter de Menocal of Columbia University of sediments in the west of Mauritania found a sudden increase in wind-carried dust blown off the Sahara region, suggesting swift climate change.

But data from Lake Yoa shows the opposite, and the transition to desert took its time, said Kropelin. He said he believed de Menocal's data were not wrong but misinterpreted.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles

http://www.ewastedisposal.net