Meet Siku, the month-old polar bear from Denmark who has inspired “awww”s worldwide with his videotaped antics. Siku’s mother can’t produce any milk, so the little bear (whose name means “ice” in Greenlandic) is being bottle-fed. In addition to his prodigious ability to guzzle milk, Siku loves to lounge around, get back rubs and snooze while sticking his tongue out.
Following in the paw-steps of the Berlin Zoo’s Knut, Siku has swiftly become an online celebrity, boasting a Facebook page with 20,000 followers where fans can watch his latest videos.
Siku will be even more spoiled than Knut, however, enjoying the “world’s largest polar bear facility” at the Scandinavian Wildlife Park, according to one of his carers, Frank Vigh-Larsen.
Scandinavian Wildlife Park is already renowned for
the very high stands of the animal facilities, not least the polar bear
facility covering 26.000 square meters. The information and education
standards are also very high, and Scandinavian Wildlife Park is now
developing a new information program about the climate changes, the sea
ice in the Arctic Sea and the polar bears. This program will evolve
around SIKU, who will become Ambassador for his wild cousins living in
The polar bears in Scandinavian
Wildlife Park are part of a Global breeding program for captive polar
bears. The aim of the program is to sustain a population of healthy
polar bears in captivity, NOT to breed polar bears to be released in the
wild. This program is short on breeding animals, and it is therefore
important that SIKU enters the breeding program as soon as possible.
Scandinavian Wildlife Park has some of the best and largest polar bear
facilities in the world, we are convinced that it will be possible for
SIKU to become a normal functioning polar bear within a few years, so he
can live together with the other polar bears in Scandinavian Wildlife
Though a number of fans have made comparisons to Berlin's famous polar bear Knut, who died in March, Vigh-Larsen told the "Today" show that Siku will have a different life.
"Siku will be a completely different bear than Knut," he said. "He will
grow up in a different environment. We have the world's largest polar
bear facility here, covering two-and-a-half hectares, and when he's
about two years old he will move in with the other four polar bears (at
the park) and have a very normal polar bear life -- as normal as it can
be in captivity."
While Berlin continues to struggle with how to memorialize its star bear Knut
after he died suddenly this spring at the age of four, drowning after a
seizure caused by encephalitis, Siku may carry on his legacy of
promoting climate change
awareness. His symbolic name is meant to call attention to the swiftly
disappearing habitat of polar bears. With climate change rapidly melting
the Arctic sea ice the species relies on for hunting, they could be
extinct in the wild within 40 years, the zoo warns.
Vigh-Larsen asked "Today" viewers to make an effort to reduce their
carbon footprints and save energy on Siku's behalf. "And if you all do
that, he would be very, very happy," he said.
Every Cub Counts The cub is a huge step for polar bear
conservation worldwide. As we lose more of their Arctic habitat
to climate change, the future of polar bears in the wild grows
less certain with each passing year. That’s why polar
bears are now protected under the Endangered Species Act,
and that’s why cubs like this one have such an important
role to play. We hope that folks who stop by to see this little
bear will take a moment to consider the plight of our bears’
wild counterparts and think about steps they can take to preserve
this species for generations to come.
Zone of Silence (Zona Del Silencio). A Desert near the area of Ceballos in Northern Mexico, 400 miles south of El Paso, Texas. It is an epicenter for some of the strangest phenomenon ever experienced on earth. A high level of electro magnetic frequency is also present.
The zone is known for being home of rare species like an endemic version of the desert tortoise and the purple cactus.
Theorists are quick to point out that the Zone of Silence is
geographically located just north of the Tropic of Cancer and shares the
same latitude south of the 30th parallel as the Egyptian Pyramids, the sacred cities of Tibet, and the Bermuda Triangle,
a fact scientist point out is probably a simple coincidence. In fact,
scientists at the Mexican research center have dubbed the region the Sea
of Thetys because millions of years ago the area lay at the bottom of
Some believe the area is a magnetic grid point
or portal where earth energy is concentrated. This energy is linked to
UFO activity and ancient astronaut theory, some believing aliens still
return to these highly magnetic areas, either by ship or through
wormholes. No reliably-documented evidence exists to support any of
these claims, though UFO sightings are common in Mexico. Strange lights,
floating orbs, burning bushes, flying saucers, and alien encounters
have all been reported with a degree of abundance in the area. Ranchers
report the night sky is often filled with mysterious lights, and
floating aircraft that allegedly landed vertically in the desert, often
causing brush to ignite and catch fire.
There have been reports of encounters with strange humanoid creatures.
One ranch family claims they are regularly visited by a trio of blonde,
long haired humanoids, two males and a female, that speak perfect
Spanish. As the story goes, the visitors only ask for water, never for
food or other provision. And when asked once by the rancher where they
came from, they reportedly answered "from above".
Whether we are dealing with UFOs, dimensional visitors who find
magnetic aberrations facilitate their journeys, or merely a
poorly understood part of our world with unsuspected properties, no easy answers
apply to the riddle posed by the Zone of Silence. The builders of the
mysterious ruined observatory would have probably agreed.
The neuromarketing concept was developed by psychologists at Harvard University in 1990. The technology is based on a model whereby the major thinking part of human activity (over 90%) including emotion proceeds in subconscious area that is below the levels of controlled awareness. For this reason the perception technologists of the market are very tempted to learn the techniques of effective manipulation of the subconscious brain activity. The main reason is to inspire the desired reaction in person’s perception as deeply as possible.
WHAT happens in our brains when we watch a compelling TV commercial?
For one thing, certain brain waves that correlate with heightened attention become more active, according to researchers who have used EEGs, or electroencephalographs, to study the brain’s electrical frequencies. Brain waves that signal less-focused attention, meanwhile, tend to subside.
If pitches are to succeed, they need to reach the subconscious level of the brain, the place where consumers develop initial interest in products, inclinations to buy them and brand loyalty, says A. K. Pradeep, the founder and chief executive of NeuroFocus, a neuromarketing firm based in Berkeley, Calif.
Each volleyball-sized SPHERES has its own onboard power, propulsion, computing and navigational software. Adding the smartphone transforms the satellite into a free-flying robot, or "Smart SPHERES" -- complete with a compact, low-power, low-cost embedded computer and built-in cameras and sensors to enhance and expand robotic operations.
This close-up view shows three bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites called Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.
MIT undergrads flight-test a prototype droid onboard NASA's KC-135 reduced gravity aircraft. Image Credit: NASA.
The MIT Space Systems Laboratory developed the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) laboratory environment to provide DARPA, NASA, and other researchers with a long term, replenishable, and upgradable testbed for the validation of high risk metrology, control, and autonomy technologies for use in formation flight and autnomous docking, rendezvous and reconfiguration algorithms. These technologies are critical to the operation of distributed satellite and docking missions such as Terrestrial Planet Finder and Orbital Express.
To approximate the dynamics that will be encountered during these missions, the testbed consists of three small, self-contained vehicles, or "spheres," which can control their relative positions and orientations, and is operable on a 2-D laboratory platform, NASA's KC-135, and the International Space Station. SPHERES draws upon the MODE family of dynamics and control laboratories (STS-40, 42, 48, 62, MIR) by providing a cost-effective laboratory with direct astronaut interaction that exploits the micro-gravity conditions of space.
Here is a video of a recent Test Session aboard the ISS:
Researchers have successfully managed to create a “solar paint” made out of quantum dots, which exhibits similar properties to multifilm solar cell architectures. The later are sophisticated, expensive and require a lot of time to deploy; the paint can be easily applied to basically any surface, like a house’s roof, and prepare it to easily generate photocurrent.
By harvesting waste heat, researchers from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have for the first time built a solar cell with an external quantum efficiency over 100 percent.
A cell's external quantum efficiency is the number of electrons flowing per second in its external circuit, divided by the number of photons per second entering it, and is different at different wavelengths.
The best result for the NREL solar cell was 114 percent. it means, says the team, that solar energy has a competitive future, making it possibly cheaper than energy from fossil or nuclear fuels.
The researchers, Mathew P. Genovese of the University of Waterloo in Canada, with Ian V. Lightcap and Prashant V. Kamat of the Radiation Laboratory and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, will be publishing their study in an upcoming issue of ACS Nano.
The new solar paint, which the researchers humorously call “Sun Believable solar paint,” consists of a yellow or brown paste made of quantum dots. The small size of these tiny semiconductor nanocrystals makes it possible to capture nearly all incident visible sunlight with an extremely thin layer of dots. The researchers experimented with three types of quantum dots: CdS, CdSe, and TiO2, all of which are powder-like, with water and tert butanol as the solvent. As Kamat explained, all commercial paints are TiO2 nanoparticle-based suspensions. But instead of adding dye to give the paint a desired color, here the researchers added colored semiconductor nanocrystals to the solar paint to achieve the desired optical and electronic properties.
Russian research team astonished after finding 'fountains' of methane bubbling to surface
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.
According to Igor Semiletov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, methane gas is 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Semiletov has studied these methane plumes for years but most of that time they were only about 30 meters in diameter. Semiletov said, "We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale — I think on a scale not seen before."
But with these methane bubbling holes having expanded to nearly one mile wide with no end to their expansion in sight , he is more than just a little bit concerned.
The Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev conducted a survey of 10,000 square miles of sea off the coast of eastern Siberia. They made a terrifying discovery - huge plumes of methane bubbles rising to the surface from the seabed. 'We found more than 100 fountains, some more than a kilometre across,' said Dr Igor Semiletov, 'These are methane fields on a scale not seen before. The emissions went directly into the atmosphere.'
Far East Siberia: The melting of 'permafrost' under the sea has led to huge releases of methane - far more abrupt and intense than anything on land
Methane bubbles trapped in ice: Normally, bubbles from the seabed turn into carbon dioxide before reaching the surface, but the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is so shallow the methane travels directly into the atmosphere
Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.
Dr Semiletov's team published a study in 2010 estimating that the methane emissions from this region were about eight million tonnes a year, but the latest expedition suggests this is a significant underestimate of the phenomenon.
March 4, 2010
A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov.
Researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard University have developed a tool that can tackle large data sets in a way that no other software program can. Part of a suite of statistical tools called MINE, it can tease out multiple patterns hidden in health information from around the globe, statistics amassed from a season of major league baseball, data on the changing bacterial landscape of the gut, and much more.
Relationships discovered in data will shed light on vexing problems and increase human understanding
One of the greatest strengths of this newly discovered tool within MINE is its ability to detect and analyze a broad spectrum of patterns and characterize them according to a number of different parameters a researcher might be interested in. Other statistical tools work well for searching for a specific pattern in a large data set, but cannot score and compare different kinds of possible relationships. Researchers can also use MINE to generate new ideas and connections.
Learn more about MINE, MIC and patterns identified in biological and health data, as well as statistics from the 2008 baseball season by visiting the Broad Institute website. A video about this work also is available on the website.
This graphic depicts the top 0.25 percent of the relationships that the researchers' techniques found in data on the concentration of microbes in the human gut. Image courtesy of David Reshef
The procedure that their algorithm follows can be interpreted visually. Effectively, the algorithm considers every pair of variables in a dataset and plots them against each other. It then overlays each graph with a series of denser and denser grids and identifies the grid cells that contain data points. Using principles borrowed from information theory, the algorithm assesses how orderly the patterns produced by the data-containing cells are. The score for each pair of variables is based on the score of its most orderly pattern.
“The fundamental idea behind this approach is that if a pattern exists in the data, there will be some gridding that can capture it,” Reshef says. And because the cells in a grid can track a curve as easily as they can a straight line, the method isn’t tied to any particular type of relationship.
The Coca-Cola Co. has announced multi-million dollar partnership agreements with three leading biotechnology companies to accelerate development of the first commercial solutions for next-generation PlantBottle packaging made 100 percent from plant-based materials.
This effort to commercialize a plastic bottle made entirely from plants builds on the company's ground-breaking introduction and roll-out of its first generation PlantBottle package which was the first recyclable PET beverage bottle made partially from plants. Since that 2009 introduction, the company has already distributed more than 10 billion PlantBottle packages in 20 countries worldwide.
The key difference between PlantBottle packaging and traditional PET plastic bottles is that instead of using petroleum and other fossil fuels to produce a key ingredient in the plastic, PlantBottle packaging uses materials that are up to 30% plants-based. In essence, we are trading fossil fuels for plant-based material without sacrificing performance or recyclability.
Who are the companies that will aid Coca-Cola in this mission? Each of the biotechnology pioneers will use its own approach in conjunction with the secret approach for Coca-Cola Plant Bottle.
Virent’s technology uses catalytic chemistry to convert sugars into materials that have properties similar to petroleum. One of the materials it produces is bio-based paraxylene, which is key for creating 100 percent plant-based PET. Virent’s first commercial plant is supposed to open in 2015.
Avantium’s approach is based on its YXY technology, which it can use to create PEF bottles. The company is hoping to achieve commercial production levels “in the next few years.”
Gevo intends to produce paraxylene from its bio-based isobutanol. The company didn’t offer a commercialization timeframe in Coca-Cola’s press materials about the new partnerships.
Virent’s Plant-Based Paraxylene Paves the Way for a 100% Bio-PET Bottle
Madison, Wisconsin – December 15, 2011 – Virent and The Coca-Cola Company announced today they have entered into a new strategic partnership to accelerate the commercialization of renewable, recyclable materials for beverage packaging. [...]
Exceptional functional properties make biobased plastic PEF a suitable alternative for future beverage packaging following technology break-through by Avantium
15 December, 2011 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dutch research and technology company Avantium has developed a patented technology YXY to produce 100% biobased PEF bottles. Currently PET is the most widely used oil-based polyester. Based on the performance of the new PEF material, Avantium believes PEF will become the next-generation biobased polyester.
The Coca-Cola Company and Gevo Partner to Develop and Commercialize 100% Renewable Plastic Bottles
Gevo’s technology will help create a viable alternative to fossil-fuel based packaging
ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 15, 2011-- Gevo, Inc. (NASDAQ: GEVO), a leading renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, today announced a groundbreaking agreement with The Coca-Cola Company (Coca-Cola) to create renewable para-xylene from plant based isobutanol, which will accelerate the development of Coca-Cola’s second-generation PlantBottle™ packaging made from 100% plant-based materials. [...]
A group led by UM assistant professor Dr. Neil Hammerschlag studied the techniques employed by the great whites in their hunting of Cape fur seals in False Bay, South Africa. The study helps confirm a notion, long held by surfers whose silhouettes look somewhat like a seal’s, that great whites always stalk their prey from below. While that in itself isn’t surprising, Hammerschlag’s research, published in Marine Biology Research, showed that the sharks camouflage themselves by taking advantage of water’s light-scattering properties. In low light conditions, when sunlight is hitting the water at a sharp angle, light does not penetrate deep into the water, and what light does is heavily distorted, essentially hiding the shark in otherwise clear water.
Scientists use basic principles of underwater optics, physics to understand predator-prey interactions
Sharks typically search, stalk and strike their prey from below. The vast majority of predatory strikes by sharks and Cape fur seals occur against small groups of young-of-the-year seals. Predatory activity by sharks is most intense within two hours of sunrise and quickly decreases as light penetration in the water column increases.
“Stealth and ambush are key elements in the white shark's predatory strategy,” said Hammerschlag.
Cape fur seals also have unique techniques to detect, avoid, outmaneuver and in some cases injure the white shark in order to avoid predation by sharks.
According to the authors, if a seal is not disabled during the shark’s initial shark, the small seal can use its highly maneuverable body to leap away from the shark’s jaws to evade a second strike.
Differences in relative strengths and weaknesses between predators and prey under tactical contexts result in complex and dynamic contests between them. These contests are often brief and difficult to observe in marine systems. Here, we employ basic principles of underwater optics and physics to provide a conceptual understanding of mechanisms underlying predator–prey interactions between white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) that have been previously described at Seal Island in False Bay, South Africa.
Scientists at Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, believe that in the future learning a new skill might involve nothing more than sitting in front of a computer screen and waiting for it to ‘upload’.
They have been studying how a functional magnetic resonance machine (FMRI) can ‘induce’ knowledge in someone through their visual cortex by sending signals that change their brain activity pattern.
This process is called Decoded Neurofeedback, or ‘DecNef’.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around Vesta on July 16, 2011 for a planned one-year exploration, and what is known about Vesta will be refined and extended as data from Dawn is received, analyzed and published.
See asteroid Vesta spin before your very eyes. In this movie, strung together from a series of images provided by the framing camera on NASA's Dawn spacecraft, we see a full rotation of Vesta, which occurs over the course of roughly five hours. These images were obtained on July 24, 2011, from a distance of about 3,200 miles (5,200 kilometers).
Vesta appears in a splendid rainbow-colored palette in new images obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The colors, assigned by scientists to show different rock or mineral types, reveal Vesta to be a world of many varied, well-separated layers and ingredients. Vesta is unique among asteroids visited by spacecraft to date in having such wide variation, supporting the notion that it is transitional between the terrestrial planets -- like Earth, Mercury, Mars and Venus -- and its asteroid siblings.
In images from Dawn's framing camera, the colors reveal differences in the rock composition associated with material ejected by impacts and geologic processes, such as slumping, that have modified the asteroid's surface. [...]
Dawn, as a mission belonging to NASA’s Discovery Program, delves into the unknown, drives new technology innovations, and achieves what's never been attempted before. In Dawn’s case, it is orbiting one member of the main asteroid belt, Vesta, before heading to gather yet more data at a second, Ceres. [...]