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+ - High speed evolution->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "Normally the 'evolution conjures up an image of "super-long time frame" but at least in the case of lizards on Florida islands the evolution seems to have shifted to the fifth gear

Sientists working on islands in Florida have documented the rapid evolution of a native lizard species — in as little as 15 years — as a result of pressure from an invading lizard species, introduced from Cuba. After contact with the invasive species, the native lizards began perching higher in trees, and, generation after generation, their feet evolved to become better at gripping the thinner, smoother branches found higher up

The change occurred at an astonishing pace: Within a few months, native lizards had begun shifting to higher perches, and over the course of 15 years and 20 generations, their toe pads had become larger, with more sticky scales on their feet. "We did predict that we'd see a change, but the degree and quickness with which they evolved was surprising," said Yoel Stuart, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the study

"To put this shift in perspective, if human height were evolving as fast as these lizards' toes, the height of an average American man would increase from about 5 foot 9 inches today to about 6 foot 4 inches within 20 generations — an increase that would make the average U.S. male the height of an NBA shooting guard," said Stuart. "Although humans live longer than lizards, this rate of change would still be rapid in evolutionary terms"

This latest study is one of only a few well-documented examples of what evolutionary biologists call "character displacement," in which similar species competing with each other evolve differences to take advantage of different ecological niches. A classic example comes from the finches studied by Charles Darwin. Two species of finch in the Galápagos Islands diverged in beak shape as they adapted to different food sources. The researchers speculate that the competition between brown and green anoles for the same food and space may be driving the adaptations of the green anoles. Stuart also noted that the adults of both species are known to eat the hatchlings of the other species

"So it may be that if you're a hatchling, you need to move up into the trees quickly or you'll get eaten," said Stuart. "Maybe if you have bigger toe pads, you'll do that better than if you don't""

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Comment: The US tech industry (Score 5, Insightful) 166

by Taco Cowboy (#48228567) Attached to: Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

Although I came in the tech field quite late (in the 1970's) I've still been around the block a few times, so here's my take ...

IBM was a sales company with strong tech foundation. Was. Now IBM has turned into a service company

Cisco's strength was derived from teams of cracked engineers churning out amazing communication hardware. Was. Now that the cracked teams of engineers have mostly left Cisco has turned more and more like an Indian company

Microsoft used to be THE company that sells software that corporations need (from OS to their office suites). Used to. Now Microsoft is a company clinging onto new versions of legacy software

Apple used to be a very brave company that dare to come up with strange products that people crave for. Used to. Now Apple, much like Microsoft, is a company clingong onto new versions of legacy hardware

+ - Ocean could turn acidic->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "The oceans absorb about a third of the CO2 that’s being produced by industrial society, and this is changing the chemistry of seawater. CO2 reacts with the sea water to form carbonic acid. UK's chief scientist, Sir Mark Walport warns that the acidity of the oceans has increased by about 25% since the industrial revolution, mainly thanks to manmade emissions

The consequences of acidification are likely to be made worse by the warming of the ocean expected with climate change, a process which is also driven by CO2. Until now studies have identified species with calcium-based shells as most in danger from changing chemistry. But researchers in Exeter have found that other creatures will also be affected because as acidity increases it creates conditions for animals to take up more coastal pollutants like copper

The angler’s favourite bait – the humble lugworm – suffers DNA damage as a result of the extra copper. The pollutant harms their sperm, and their offspring don’t develop properly. “It’s a bit of a shock, frankly,” said biologist Ceri Lewis from Exeter University, one of the report’s authors. “It means the effects of ocean acidification may be even more serious than we previously thought. We need to look with new eyes at things which we thought were not vulnerable”

The lugworm study was published in Environmental Science and Technology. Another study from Dr Lewis not yet peer-reviewed suggests that sea urchins are also harmed by uptake of copper. This adds to the damage they will suffer from increasing acidity as it takes them more and more energy to calcify their shells and spines. This is significant because sea urchins, which can live up to 100 years, are a keystone species — grazing algae off rocks that would otherwise be covered in green slime

“Our work means we are under-estimating effects of acidification for coastal invertebrates. We are now realizing there are many indirect impacts of ocean acidification on other processes. It could be that we are facing a lot more surprises ahead”"

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+ - The Queen sends her first tweet->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "

"It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R."

That was the Queen's first tweet — sent through the @BritishMonarchy account — heralding the launch of a major new exhibition at London's Science Museum

The Information Age gallery, opened by the Queen this morning, takes visitors on a journey through the history of modern communications from the telegraph to the smartphone

Baroness Martha Lane Fox, who has campaigned for better access to and understanding of the internet, welcomes the new gallery: "It's an amazing opportunity for people young and old to come and see the extraordinary developments in technology over the last hundred years or so. It really reminds me of the scale of ambition that people have had to change things"

She hopes too that visitors will learn of the great contribution made by Britain to the development of communications — from Ada Lovelace, the woman who conceived the idea of computer programming in the 1830s, through to the 1950s when Lyons Corner Houses introduced the first business computer Leo, and on to Sir Tim Berners-Lee: "I hope that people who visit will have their ambition and excitement lit so we can continue to be world leaders in this field because it's so important"

The gallery certainly does show off the role Britain has played, and a number of British companies including BT and the chip designer ARM Holdings have sponsored the Information Age and supplied exhibits. But, as they wander past early computers like the ACE, designed by Alan Turing, visitors may begin to ask themselves a question


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Comment: Re:/. is getting more and more unbelievable !! (Score 4, Interesting) 213

by Taco Cowboy (#48216797) Attached to: Mark Zuckerberg Speaks Mandarin At Tsinghua University In Beijing

If you started with Chinese as your native tongue, then romance languages are very difficult too

I am a Chinese. Mandarin is my mother tongue

I do not know what you mean by "Romance Language" but the western languages, starting from the Latin to its derivatives (Spanish, Italians, Portugese, and French, and in some way in English also) at least, to me, are not difficult to learn

I would agree that any language would be difficult to master (For example: I haven't yet master my own mother tongue, the Mandarin Language, as it is a language with thousands of years of history and the ancient texts were written in a more condensed form) but it shouldn't be difficult to learn any language to the point that one can read, speak and write in that language

Comment: /. is getting more and more unbelievable !! (Score 1, Insightful) 213

by Taco Cowboy (#48216455) Attached to: Mark Zuckerberg Speaks Mandarin At Tsinghua University In Beijing

... a notoriously difficult language to learn and particularly, to speak

If the Chinese language is really such a notoriously difficult language to learn (and to speak) there ought to be no one using it anymore, right?

I dunno about you, but I do think /. has gone way too hyperbole !!

Comment: When you are inside the box ... (Score 5, Interesting) 273

by Taco Cowboy (#48216423) Attached to: Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

I am from China. Assange is from Australia. Those of us who are not from the United States of America tend to have an advantage over those who were born and raised inside America because we were not indoctrinated with the Pledge of Allegiance throughout our childhood (into the teen years) but the Americans do

That is why when Assange said

For a man of systematic intelligence, Schmidtâ(TM)s politicsâ"such as I could hear from our discussionâ"were surprisingly conventional, even banal

I have to agree

Schmidt, no matter how smart he is, chooses to remain inside the box, and as one who stays inside the box can't see how bad the system that governs America has turned into

America used to be the one who fight for liberty. That was why I left China and went to America decades ago. Now? America is as bad as China in term of the suppression of liberty

Comment: Creativity vs Common Sense (Score 1) 148

by Taco Cowboy (#48200995) Attached to: Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

What is Creativity?

Is it like that haiku comment

"To be creative - you must resist common sense .... "

at the TFA at the TR page ?

The dude who invented the round wheel didn't invent the wheel by "resist common sense", or did he?

Does one really have to resist common sense in order to "get out of the box"?

Comment: It may not be a *significant* factor ... (Score 1) 383

The _actual_ infectivity rate of ebola strongly suggests that it isn't airborne at all, and even droplet spread is not a very significant factor

While you are correct that the airborne vector isn't significant need I remind you that Ebola is not a disease whereby the person infected with it gets a mild fever and minor headache and the cure is two aspirin tablets?

The droplet spread may not be significant but when we consider the outcome --- in the case of Ebola, even something that is NOT supposed to be significant must be accounted for - or people die

Comment: Ebola requires not an "Ebola Czar" ... (Score 0) 383

TFA is right. Ebola requires not an "Ebola Czar" but a team of people who are well trained with comprehensive strategy to tackle / combat / defeat Ebola

Right now, as it is, the fight against Ebola has been a sham --- this disease was not a new phenomenon, Ebola has been known since the 1970's, but because it had always been confined in the African continent, the continent in which the "low class people lives" (to the uninitiated that ain't my opinion but it has been the opinion of the colonial elites) nobody takes Ebola seriously other than very few cases of vaccine experimentation sponsored by military of various countries

The fact that WHO has to resort to collect the blood of those who survived Ebola to make a "serum" trying to cure Ebola tells us how unprepared the world is against this disease

Until now the establishment still insists that Ebola is not airborne but at least one experiment in Canada has indicated that Ebola could spread through air ( see these links --- )

If the establishment until now still does not want to tell us the truth, who can we trust ?

+ - Magnetic Field Flip Earlier Than Thought->

Submitted by eedwardsjr
eedwardsjr (1327857) writes "From Metro UK:

Berkeley scientists say that the Earth’s magnetic field can weaken and dip within just 100 years, before flipping so that compasses point south – an event they admit could wreck the entire world’s power grid and expose the world to deadly cosmic rays.

Earth’s magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal at present, leading geophysicists to predict a flip within a few thousand years – but Discovery news says that could understimate [sic] the speed of the change."

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Comment: Instead of the "bah" ... (Score 1) 173

Bah, none in my areas. :(

No matter how many "bah..." you utter ain't gonna change the matter for the better if you don't pick yourself up from your fat ass and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT !

What I am saying may sound harsh, but the thing that you are expressing is exactly the one thing that is retarding the cities / communities from progressing forward --- When everybody is waiting for someone else to do it there ain't gonna be anything done

Comment: systemd is the "New Coke" for the FOSS community (Score 1) 550

by Taco Cowboy (#48192991) Attached to: Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork

If you are 29 years or older you may remember what Coca Cola did back in 1985, with its "New Coke" campaign

Well ... systemd is the "New Coke" equivalent in the FOSS community

It is touted to be a better than ever but unfortunately, like "New Coke" of yore, it gonna flopped

+ - Copulation happened in Scotland, 385 million years ago!->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "Boffins are claiming that they have found the evidence of animals equipped with "copulation tools" as far back as 385 million years ago

An international team of researchers says a fish called Microbrachius dicki is the first-known animal to stop reproducing by spawning and instead mate by having sex. The primitive bony fish, which was about 8cm long, lived in ancient lakes about 385 million years ago in what is now Scotland

Lead author Prof John Long, from Flinders University in Australia, said: "We have defined the very point in evolution where the origin of internal fertilisation in all animals began"

Prof Long added that the discovery was made as he was looking through a box of ancient fish fossils. He noticed that one of the M. dicki specimens had an odd L-shaped appendage

Further investigation revealed that this was the male fish's genitals. "The male has large bony claspers. These are the grooves that they use to transfer sperm into the female" explained Prof Long. Microbrachius dicki fossils are common — but nobody noticed the sexual organs until now. The female fish, on the other hand, had a small bony structure at their rear that locked the male organ into place

Constrained by their anatomy, the fish probably had to mate side by side."They couldn't have done it in a 'missionary position'" said Prof Long. "The very first act of copulation was done sideways, square-dance style ""

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