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Comment Re:sexual reproduction (Score 1) 133

First guess- their probably all the same genus, and it's likely a genus that is particularly suited to such asexually reproducing hybrids ?

Good thought, but no - different families, even.

That in itself could be a survival trait on the level of the genus as a whole. If one or both of the parent species died out the clones may still survive as it has the best genetic benefits of both.

Except that the clones typically don't have the best genetic benefits of both parents, at least based on what we've seen. A genus with 10 sexual species probably has better odds of surviving than one with 5 sexual and 5 asexual species.

Comment Re:sexual reproduction (Score 1) 133

There are actually a number of groups of asexual lizards like these. In the U.S. and Mexico, we have the genus Aspidoscelis (originally Cnemidophorus), known as whiptail lizards. There are about a dozen asexual species, each representing the hybridization of of a parrticular combination of sexual species. Some of the asexual species are even triploid, having chromosomes from three different species. (Most animals are diploid, with one set of chromosomes from each parent.) In Europe, they have the lacertid lizards. Interestingly, the U.S., European, and now these Vietnamese species all look quite similar - don't know what that means.

In answer to some of the ideas you bring up, for the U.S. species most the asexual lines are probably thousands rather than millions of years old. Some species appear to consist of just one lineage (that is, all living individuals arose from a single original hybridization), while others appear to have had multiple hybridization events producing a variety of clones. It appears likely that, on average, members of asexual species are not quite as fit as members of sexual species - but asexual species have an advantage in reproductive rates. When everyone's a female, that means everyone lays eggs. In a sexual species, half the population just knocks up the other half but doesn't actually make any young. So, all else equal, all female populations reproduce twice as fast as sexual ones.

MS Design Lets You Put Batteries In Any Way You Want 453

jangel writes "While its strategy for mobile devices might be a mess, Microsoft has announced something we'll all benefit from. The company's patented design for battery contacts will allow users of portable devices — digital cameras, flashlights, remote controls, toys, you name it — to insert their batteries in any direction. Compatible with AA and AAA cells, among others, the 'InstaLoad' technology does not require special electronics or circuitry, the company claims."

Study Finds Fast-Food Logos Make You Impatient 122

A study conducted by the University of Toronto has found that exposure to fast-food logos can cause people to feel impatient and make them more likely to buy things. Subjects in the study were exposed to nearly imperceptible flashes of images (for 12 to 80 milliseconds) which included fast-food logos for some. The subjects were then asked to read about and choose between two different kinds of skin-care treatments, one of which was a three-in-one. Those who had the logos flashed before them read "significantly faster" and chose the more time-saving skin product. From the article: "The researchers concluded 'fast food, originally designed to save time, can have the unexpected consequence of inducing haste and impatience' and 'preference for time-saving products when there are potentially other important aspects upon which to choose a product.' So, basically, driving past a McDonald's on the highway has the potential to not only make you drive faster, it will make you more likely to buy two-for-one Pantene Pro-V Shampoo and Conditioner the next time you go to Duane Reade. One, it seems, is considerably less ominous than the other." I guess this explains why my nephews will chew on their seat belts and try to get out the windows just to be first into the McDonald's Playland.

365 Days of Photojournalism With Stormtroopers 30

Lanxon writes "Wired reports that for one French fan, the Stormtrooper has become an obsession. Stormtroopers 365 is a collection of wacky, witty, and artistic photographs that its creator Stéfan Le Dû has been adding to daily since 3 April 2009 when the project began. 'I got a new camera and I had some Stormtrooper figures sleeping in their blister packs for months. I wanted to start something a bit challenging on Flickr, and I had previously seen some awesome Star Wars toys pictures, and other "365" projects that I really liked,' he says. The two starring Stormtroopers — TK455 and TK479 — have run into cats, clocks, various household implements, and even a DeLorean sports car."

Comment Re:Solar commuter cars won't work and here's the m (Score 1) 557

My own figures:

The Tesla and EV1 both use ~12kWh/100km, or about 200 Watt-hours per mile.

I don't know what you drive, but a typical compact is about 4.5 by 1.5 meters, or about 6.75 square meters of horizontal surface area. If no more than a third is glass, that gives 4.5 square meters for cells.

Solar insolation is certainly no more than 1000 Watts/sq.m even at noon, but you're also gathering sunlight the other 3 to 5 hours you're at work. The final total will obviously vary hugely depending on your location and time of year, but on a good summer's day you might get 6500 Wh over the whole work day. But 15% efficiency sounds about right.


4.5 sq.m * 15% * 6500 Wh/sq.m =~ 4400 Wh produced
15 miles * 200 Wh/mile = 3000 Wh consumed

So even with a less-than ideal day, you might still be fine. Of course, a cloudy winter day in Minneapolis or a 30 miles commute would kill you, but at least you wouldn't have to charge up some days.


Submission + - Web-Based Photo Editor Roundup

mikemuch writes: "ExtremeTech has a roundup of 5 web-based image editing programs. The mostly Flash and AJAX-based webware ranges from simple touch-up services like Snipshot to the Photoshop wannabe Fauxto. They vary greatly in interface and extra goodies; some offer bookmarklets for getting images from a web page you're browsing, some offer artistic or goofy effects for you pix, but all fear the specter of Adobe's online version of Photoshop on the horizon."

Submission + - Copyright Royalty Board threats internet radio

Mike89 writes: On March 2, 2007, The CRB approved royalty rates that will bury any small webcaster, and create a heavy burden even for big broadcasters like Yahoo, AOL Music and Pandora. How high will these rates be? Around 100% of a small webcasters revenue, give or take a few points, in most cases. How did this happen? The RIAA told the CRB thats what they wanted, and the CRB just gave it to them. Save Net Radio has information on ways you can help stop this.

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