31 January 2010

Graffiti - Amsterdam

Graffiti - Amsterdam, originally uploaded by StonieB.

17 January 2010

Football Team

Football Team, originally uploaded by Martin Isaac.

16 January 2010

"Let Me Give You A Lift" by Becky F on Flickr.com

Let Me Give You A Lift, originally uploaded by Becky F.

"ATC made with acrylics, Sharpies, gel pens, catalog and comic book cutouts--and girl on fish image from Donna's Collage Anonymous sheet."

"Songbird" by Becky F on Flickr.com

Songbird, originally uploaded by Becky F.

"ATC made with acrylics, glitter, pen, piece of discarded music, flowers from a garden catalog, and the bird is from Lisa's Altered Art."

14 January 2010

Bill Maher to NASA: Please don't blast monkeys with radiation & shoot them into space

Bill Maher is urging NASA to leave monkeys out of the space race.
The space agency recently approved a proposal to conduct radiation studies on live squirrel monkeys in an attempt to understand the effects of interplanetary travel. The space agency has not used monkeys for radiobiology research in decades.

“I’m writing to ask you to rethink NASA’s recently announced plan to spend $1.75 million on an experiment that will blast live squirrel monkeys with dangerous levels of radiation.” writes Mr. Maher in a letter dated Jan. 13 to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. “It’s been decades since NASA last funded a study that involved irradiating nonhuman primates. Don’t turn back the clock — cancel this cruel exercise in futility.”

In the planned experiment, researcher Jack Bergman will irradiate squirrel monkeys in an attempt to understand what might happen to humans on long-term space flights, such as a trip to Mars. Bergman has used squirrel monkeys for 15 years in addiction experiments that have involved applying electric shocks, withholding food, and completely immobilizing the animals in restraint chairs for extended periods. Ongoing studies, including those funded by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy, already use non-animal methods to determine the effects of low-dose radiation on human tissues.


Are nonhuman animals more moral than human animals? Yes, says Psychology Today

"…when we really look at the data, it’s not nature red in tooth and claw; there’s really a lot of empathy and compassion both within and between species."
Read it all:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201001/are-nonhuman-animals-more-moral-human-animals-yes-they-are

12 January 2010

Cool video on The Art of Falconry

The Art of Falconry : News (KGBT 4)
"RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS -- The art of falconry dates back more than 4,000 years, but as Paul Juergens readies his peregrine for flight, he adds a touch of modernity in the from of a satellite tracking device."

Don't blame bats if humans use their sonar expertise to justify military aircraft tactics.

Sonar wars in the night skies (NewsObserver.com)

"Conner began to study bats and moths together and learned that just like military aircraft, at least one species of tiger moth can jam enemy sonar by producing a sound at the right frequency. Moths, of course, found it first. Jamming sonar means the moths interfere with their enemies' fine-tuned way of bouncing sound off objects to navigate. However, the b. trigona moth seems to thwart its enemy, the bat, every time, and the military still can't claim that rate for foiling anti-aircraft missiles. Conner has only studied the one type of moth but has never seen a moth get eaten after producing the high frequency racket. So, can the military learn a thing or two from a moth?"

Birdland 3D Interactive audio art by Bruce Mowson

Birdland is an immersive sound work. Set in a 3D game construction space, visuals are minimalised and sound is maximalised in order to experiment with sensations, perceptions and flows of listening. Within the space, the user glides freely around sculptural, architectural and topological formations. The project aims to develop new techniques for composing sound and new ideas about the significance of listening, through a reading of Deleuzian and Lacaning texts in conjunction with playful and intuitive exploration. An iteration of the work presented for the Time Transcendence Performance conference is an early prototype created for the Design Research Institute’s Virtual Reality Centre.

10 January 2010

"peace" from wojofoto of Amsterdam

peace, originally uploaded by wojofoto.

07 January 2010

New cupcake shoes!

New cupcake shoes!, originally uploaded by jelene.

"I talk to animals all the time" says columnist. Do you talk with nonhumans?

….I talk to animals all the time. Once upon a time I was out in the pre-dawn darkness wiping dew off my car window so I could drive to work "... when I felt a bump on my right ankle.  I looked down to see a big, fat striped skunk sniffing my leg. "Hey, Stinky, please don't do that," I said softly.  The skunk looked up, turned around and waddled off into the darkness.

–Gary Bogue, Contra Costa Times

Is this progress or is this nonhuman communications researcher confusing the noise for the signal?

From crickets to whales, animal calls have something in common
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Scientists who compare insect chirps with ape calls may look like they are mixing aphids and orangutans, but researchers have found common denominators in the calls of hundreds of species of insects, birds, fish, frogs, lizards and mammals that can be predicted with simple mathematical models.

Compiling data from nearly 500 species, scientists with the University of Florida and Oklahoma State University have found the calls of crickets, whales and a host of other creatures are ultimately controlled by their metabolic rates — in other words, their uptake and use of energy.

"Very few people have compared cricket chirps to codfish sounds to the sounds made by whales and monkeys to see if there were commonalities in the key features of acoustic signals, including the frequency, power and duration of signals," said James Gillooly, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of biology at UF's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a member of the UF Genetics Institute. "Our results indicate that, for all species, basic features of acoustic communication are primarily controlled by individual metabolism, which in turn varies predictably with body size and temperature. So, when the calls are adjusted for an animal's size and temperature, they even sound alike."

The finding, reported in today's Proceedings of the Royal Society B, will help scientists understand how acoustic communication evolved across species, uniting a field of study that has long focused on the calls of particular groups of animals, such as birds.

The results also provide insights regarding common energetic and neuromuscular constraints on sound production, and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of producing these sounds.

"Acoustic signals are used to transfer information among species that is required for survival, growth and reproduction," Gillooly said. "This work suggests that this information exchange is ultimately governed by the rate at which an animal takes up and uses energy."

Animal communication is a long-studied area of biology, going back at least to the days of Aristotle. But generally the studies were species-specific, made in the context of courting calls or parental care of a certain type of animal — nothing to relate an animal call across a variety of species.

"From my perspective this is one of the first true attempts to provide a general theoretical framework for acoustic communication," said Alexander G. Ophir, Ph.D., an assistant professor of zoology at Oklahoma State, who began the painstaking process of compiling data on animal calls in hundreds of different species while a postdoctoral student at UF. "This seems to provide unifying principles for acoustic communication that can be applied to virtually all species. In terms of producing sounds, we use vocal cords, but other mechanisms of sound production exist, such as insects that rub their legs together. Until now, these sounds have been treated differently. But by providing a general mathematical framework — a baseline — we have a reference point to compare those differences.

"So if we say one animal's call is loud, we can provide a predictive reference point to say whether it is truly loud when compared with other animal sounds," he said.

That common reference point can even predict what animals long extinct — think of Tyrannosaurus rex of "Jurassic Park" fame — may have truly sounded like.

"These findings say if you give me information about an animal of a certain body size and the mechanisms it uses to make sounds, I can give you a rough idea of what it sounds like," said Jeffrey Podos, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who did not participate in the study. "It allows us to imagine where the evolution of acoustic signals might go, and where it might have come from. Further study will probably put these principles in a more explicit evolutionary framework, but this is an interesting idea and presented with such a broad view. I can't think of anyone in at least 30 years who has tied together data from such a diversity of species. These authors are really trying to see the forest instead of the trees."


Elephant dictionary in the works, reports 60 Minutes

Elephant dictionary in the works, reports 60 Minutes
"Bob Simon has reported for CBS News on everything from the Vietnam War to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to the Israel-Palestine conflict. This past Sunday on 60 Minutes, Mr. Simon returned to an even heavier subject-elephants. 'Elephants communicate in a complicated, sophisticated language that scientists are trying to decipher and compile into the world's first elephant dictionary,' reported Ms. Simon."

05 January 2010

Exposing Japan's whale meat "research" scam

NZ, Australia research whales to challenge Japan (BBC News):

"…Nick Gales from the Australian Antarctic Division, who is leading the expedition, believes it will show that Japan's arguments for whale hunting are misguided. 'Anyone can always come up with a project that you have to kill an animal to measure something,' he said. 'But the important question is whether or not you need that information - and our view very strongly is that all of that type of information that is relevant to the conservation and management of whales can be gathered using new and very powerful non-lethal tools.'"…

Eagle mummies found in Egyptian city of the dead

Egypt archaeologists discover huge tomb near Cairo (BBC News): "There are a number of small rooms and passageways where ancient coffins, skeletons and well-preserved clay pots were discovered, as well as the mummies of eagles."

Why dolphins & other nonhumans are more intelligent than humans

…referring to these beautiful creatures as nonhuman persons may be damning them with faint praise if the measure of personhood is -- us. Superior technology and a willingness to commit animal and human genocide for fun and profit hardly makes us a worthy standard by which to measure our brethren in the animal kingdom. If they're half as intelligent as we now believe they are, most self-respecting dolphins would bitterly resent the comparison, anyway. Perhaps a more reliable measure of intelligence is an ability to live in harmony with nature as much as possible. Actually, that would give the advantage to dolphins -- and every other nonhuman creature that swims, creeps or flies over the surface of the Earth.

04 January 2010

Are dogs just saying Hello when they touch noses?

The researchers therefore conclude that the nose touching between dogs not only is a way of saying "Hello" but also helps to answer the question "Have you encountered any snacks or other food around here?"

02 January 2010

"Spiders Decorate Webs with Ornaments" reports Discovery News

Spiders Decorate Webs with Ornaments

Ribbons, shimmery fluff, silk tufts and hints of red and green might sound like Christmas tree ornaments, but these decorative touches have all been spotted in the webs of orb-weaving spiders, according to a new study.

However, the festive scene takes on sinister new meaning. Researchers have just discovered that, similar to how human eyes are drawn to holiday ornaments, spider prey are drawn to their death by colorful, shimmering decorations.