Before the Cock Crows, the Biological Clock Strikes

first_imgAt Easter time, people recall the story of Peter denying Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. Some scientists tried to figure out what clicks the rooster’s clock alarm.A trio of Japanese scientists wanted to know if rooster crowing is triggered by external cues (such as brightening before daybreak) or an internal clock. Describing their findings in Current Biology, they found that roosters kept in steady dim light continued to crow before the dawn hours, but over days, the timing tended to scatter. This suggests that crowing is primarily triggered by an internal clock – but that its accuracy wavers without external cues.Those who live around chickens know that roosters will crow in response to external cues, too, such as car headlights, and often crow throughout the day. That reliable morning call, though, provides a natural alarm clock for country folk (but one without a snooze button).  Science Now and PhysOrg reported on the findings.“We still do not know why a dog says ‘bow-wow’ and a cat says ‘meow,’” one of the authors said. “We are interested in the mechanism of this genetically controlled behavior and believe that chickens provide an excellent model.”So here is an everyday phenomenon, observed anecdotally for thousands of years, that scientists still don’t understand. But you can be sure they understand completely how hydrogen evolved into people.  Would that scientists focus on experiments like this that rest on observation, testing, and repeatability instead of imagination.Jesus’ foreknowledge of Peter’s denials provides evidence for His deity. He could foretell the final denial just seconds before the natural rooster alarm went off.  That by itself would be remarkable, but so much more evidence makes the conclusion unavoidable: Christ was the Son of God.  Consider the prophecies written centuries before He came, as in Isaiah 53.  Then there is the resurrection evidence: the empty tomb, 500 eyewitnesses of His resurrection at one time, the dramatic turnaround of the fearful disciples into faithful witnesses unto martyrdom, and more.  For Easter, treat yourself to two excellent documentary films, The Case for Christ and Prophecies of the Passion. (Visited 26 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Activity on Planets Suggests Youth

first_imgCan these processes really have gone on for billions of years?Mars EruptionsMars has polar caps of frozen carbon dioxide that wax and wane through the planet’s seasons. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been watching the seasonal changes with its HiRISE camera for a decade now. A new paper published in Icarus reports the discovery of new troughs seen forming in polar terrain due to explosive jetting of CO2 as the ice sublimates in the Martian summer. The jets deposit mineral dust and sand on top of the ice, but also carve troughs in the terrain under the ice, creating branching patterns unique to Mars (see example on UAHiRISE page).These jets and the related sub-ice gas flows are believed to carve troughs in the underlying polar deposits which, after multiple repetitions of this process throughout Martian spring seasons, create araneiform [spider-like] terrains….Detection of the present day erosion working in polar areas and creating new topographical features is important for understanding of the processes that shape polar areas. Several years of HiRISE observations provide us with the information about the current rate of erosion and hence help estimate minimum ages of the araneiforms and the surface into which they are carved to be 1.3 × 103 Martian years.Since a Martian year is about 1.88 Earth years, these erosional features are only about 2,500 years old. There is undoubtedly some cycling of material year by year, as new patterns erase old ones. But for this to have been going on for 4.5 billion years (the assumed age of the solar system), the material would have been recycled 1.8 million times by now.Last year, Space.com reported that the Martian atmosphere is being lost to space. NASA’s MAVEN mission, sent to study the Martian atmosphere, surprised astronomers at the amount of loss. It makes it harder to believe enough CO2 remained to create the troughs over and over almost 2 million times.But MAVEN results announced Thursday (Nov. 5 [2015]) show that the planet’s CO2 went up rather than down: Shortly after Mars’ global magnetic field shut down about 4.2 billion years ago, the solar wind and powerful sun explosions stripped away most of the planet’s atmosphere, sending it off into space….“It’s not there,” he said of the atmospheric CO2 during NASA’s news conference Thursday announcing the MAVEN results. “It’s been removed from the solar system entirely, so it’s not possible to bring it back.“In another paper on Icarus (open access), scientists attempted to duplicate the explosive CO2 eruptions in the lab. They could only get the eruptions to occur under special conditions. “We have reproduced dust eruptions from a layer of dust inside a CO2 ice slab under Martian conditions,” they say. “We found that in order to trigger dust eruptions a delicate balance between pressure and temperature near the equilibrium of the CO2 phase change seems to be necessary.” Does that imply that the eruptions we observe today have only started recently? Generally speaking, secular scientists do not like to invoke special conditions for rare phenomena (e.g., Saturn’s rings, the Enceladus geysers, or the Martian jets) that just happen to occur when human beings are lucky enough to witness them.Venus Volcanoes“Volcanoes on Venus Erupted Recently, New Study Suggests.” That’s a headline on Space.com that revisits the mystery of Venus volcanism. Planetary scientists have been baffled by evidence from the Magellan orbital radar mapper in the late 1990s that suggested the entire surface of Venus had been resurfaced by rampant volcanism relatively recently in its assumed 4.5-billion-year history (see “Earth’s ugly sister can’t get a date,” 8/16/04, and follow-up reference, 8/27/09 ). It’s been particularly hard to explain in the absence of plate tectonics. A follow-up question has been whether the volcanoes are still active now, but it’s been hard to tell because of the planet’s thick, hot atmosphere. This article reports a “hotspot” that could be as young as yesterday.Volcanic activity on Venus took place in the recent past, geologically speaking, and may still be happening on the planet today. New research takes a deeper look at one recent eruption on Venus’ surface.The Idunn Mons volcano in the southwestern hemisphere of Venus rises 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) above the surrounding plains. In 2010, observations by the European Space Agency’s Venus Express probe revealed that Idunn Mons is a “hotspot,” meaning it radiates high levels of infrared light compared to the surrounding area. That suggests that lava flowed at the spot recently, and that the area is still warm.Now, a more nuanced look at Idunn Mons suggests that the hotspot observations are consistent with multiple (cooled) lava flows along the volcano’s eastern flank, the new research shows. The researchers behind the new work said the finding suggests that Venus’ volcanos were active in the relatively recent past, and may still be active today.Comet TalesThe Rosetta mission is complete, but analysis of the data on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Chury for short) will continue for years. One surprise was reported by Science Daily: “Comet Chury is much younger than previously thought.” How much younger? “the comet in its present form is hardly more than a billion years old.” Sounds pretty old, but that would be just 22% of the assumed 4.5-billion-year age. What happened after 78% of its life had transpired?Analysis of the “neck” between the two lobes of the duck-shaped comet shows that it is too delicate to have survived the many collisions it should have suffered throughout its existence. To rescue the assumed age, they invoke a finely-tuned collision in its senior years, not enough to blast the comet to smithereens but strong enough to break it apart. That resulted in the two lobes separating, then recombining by gravity. It must be remembered, however, that comets lose material each time they come near the sun.A paper in Nature reports on observations of the dust on Comet Chury. “Comets are thought to preserve almost pristine dust particles,” the Rosetta scientists begin, proceeding to interpret contradictory evidence about their building blocks. Previous missions found processed material that could not be considered pristine. Rosetta’s in-situ measurements show a hierarchical pattern of dust grains that the astonomers interpret as consistent with interplanetary dust particles from which the solar system presumably condensed. That, however, sounds circular; they are pristine, therefore we interpret them to look pristine. Some processing of theory appears to be in progress. Commenting on the paper in Nature, Ludmilla Kolokolova concludes,The authors’ results enhance our fundamental understanding of cometary dust, and the processes that ultimately gave rise to planetary systems such as the Solar System. Their discovery of a hierarchical structure in cometary dust particles and their description of the basic building blocks of such particles might lead physicists to reconsider the interpretation of data obtained from ground-based observations of comets and re-evaluate the processes in protoplanetary nebulae — and will probably give rise to new models of how planets were formed.How Planets Were FormedBut do astronomers really know much about how planets formed? We conclude this entry with a link to Science Daily that overthrows previous speculations about planets condensing out of stellar disks. Scientists got all excited last March about a putative “protoplanetary disk” forming around star TW Hydrae. Gaps in the disk seemed to be orbits where new planets were accreting. Sorry, the article concludes: it’s not the birth of a solar system, but likely its death. Photoevaporation in the disk from starlight is likely causing the disk to dissipate.Destructive processes – recent processes – special epochs in planetary history: these are not predictions of secular models. They are anomalies requiring theory rescue devices. A simple look at the evidence suggests that real physical processes are tearing down order, not creating it, and doing it in far less time than billions of years. (Visited 49 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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UN funding for African ‘green’ projects

first_img8 March 2010The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has partnered with South Africa’s Standard Bank and the German government’s International Climate Initiative to develop a new carbon project as part of the fight against climate change.The Africa Carbon Asset Development (ACAD) is the first facility dedicated to boosting the African carbon market, and will support continental projects through a combination of technical assistance, grants and preferential access to corporate finance and transactional guidance.ACAD takes a new approach toward capacity and market development, sharing costs and risks with African banks such as Standard Bank to realise and replicate projects.“Huge investments, especially in Africa, will be needed if we are to minimize the effects of climate change,” Sylvie Lemmet, director of UNEP’s Paris-based Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, said in a statement last week.“Government investment alone will not be enough. ACAD is a good example of how we can attract much-needed private capital for investments that address climate change.”Removing investment barriersOne of the key challenges Africa faces is in removing investment barriers to low-carbon sustainable development. Combined with traditional debt or equity finance, carbon finance is a promising means of attracting funding for energy and infrastructure projects; and it is here that ACAD can help.The ACAD partnership couples UNEP’s longstanding capacity building expertise in environmental policy and finance with the financial know-how and regional reach of Standard Bank.“We are keen to bring our global experience on carbon finance back to our roots in Africa and to combine it with the leading technical expertise of UNEP and its Risoe Center,” said Standard Bank Carbon Sales and Trading head Geoff Sinclair.“Our objective is to collaborate with local companies and investors to bring Africa to the forefront of the carbon markets and we look forward to working with everyone to achieve this.”‘Green’ development projectsACAD has recently awarded its first grants to innovative “green” development projects in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. These include:The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Kenya, one of the largest renewable energy generation projects on the African continent to have achieved financial closure. ACAD will provide partial payment for validation costs under the Clean Development Mechanism – the UN carbon credit scheme;The Lagos Waste Management Authority in Nigeria which is developing several waste-to-energy sites. ACAD is supporting the costs of engineering and carbon auditing studies required to earn carbon credits; andThe Athi River Mining (ARM) Company, which operates a cement plant in Kenya and is attempting to reduce coal consumption in a cement plant by using locally available biomass resources.“As we are continuously working to improve our environmental footprint, Athi River Mining appreciates the technical and financial support provided by the new ACAD Facility to get this project off the ground,” said ARM managing director Pradeep Paunrana.“We will look to the lessons of this project for further energy and cost savings across the company.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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Conference offers advice on nutrient management

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest With so much focus on fertilizer these days, where and when it’s applied, a conference will be held in January to inform people about the many approaches and technological advances that can make it easier.The 2nd annual Precision University Jan. 11 in London, Ohio, will feature presentations about technology that can help farmers apply fertilizer in a way that prevents it from running off the land and ending up in Lake Erie or other waterways.The conference is being hosted by Ohio State University Extension and the Digital Agriculture program team in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of CFAES.Starting in September 2017, those who apply fertilizer on more than 50 acres of land in Ohio have had to become certified every three years by passing a test or taking a course in how to safely apply nutrients to their land. The certification requirement is aimed at keeping phosphorous and nitrogen in the soil and away from bodies of water, potentially contributing to algal blooms in Lake Erie and beyond.“We’re trying to bring attention to a relevant topic,” said Kaylee Port, precision agriculture program manager for CFAES.“We’ll be sharing best management practices and nutrient technologies to help growers become even better stewards of the land and water,” she said.Precision University will feature experts in nutrient management technology from industry and academia.The “precision” in Precision University has to do with precision technology, cutting-edge machinery that ensures work on the farm is done with accuracy. Precision technology includes having sprayer nozzles of the right type and size, providing accurate direction and pressure for applying fertilizer. Another example is applying phosphorus with a strip till machine that incorporates the phosphorus into the ground. A traditional spreader typically places nutrients on top of the soil, where they have less of a chance to be taken in by the roots and stand a higher risk of running off with rainfall and seeping into nearby waterways.Besides preserving water quality, “if you can more precisely place your nutrients, you’ll get the best bang for your buck with the product,” Port said.Speakers at Precision University will include: Robert Mullen, director of agronomy for PotashCorp, a Canada-based fertilizer company; Tony Vyn, professor of agronomy, Purdue University; Jim Schwartz, director of practical farm research and agronomy for Beck’s Hybrids; Jamie Bultemeier, director of corporate sales, A&L Great Lakes Laboratories, an Indiana-based agricultural testing company; Brian Arnall, associate professor, Oklahoma State University; Dave Scheiderer, owner, Integrated Ag, an Ohio-based agricultural-consulting firm, and Glen Arnold, OSU Extension educator and field specialist in manure nutrient management systems.The event will be 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Beck’s Hybrid’s, 720 U.S. 40, in London. The cost is $50, which includes breakfast and lunch.For more information and to register, visit:go.osu.edu/PrecisionU.last_img read more

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Are Any Of MLBs Breakout Teams For Real

Are Any Of MLBs Breakout Teams For Real

RangersAL West14-1314591473+14+4 MarinersAL West18-1314911497+7+3 CardinalsNL Central18-1015251537+12+23 TeamDivisionRecordPreseasonCurrentEloPlayoff odds We can break the most improved teams into a couple of groups. One features teams that were on the edge of contention before the season and whose hot starts solidified them as teams to be reckoned with in the playoff race. The other contains clubs who were not “supposed” to be this good (or even good at all) in the eyes of the preseason projections. These teams are in an interesting spot because their playoff odds are still low despite their promising showings. So how well they maintain their surprising performances will have a big effect on their decision-making around July’s trade deadline.Playing themselves into contentionNo team has improved its playoff odds more in April than the Tampa Bay Rays, who had a 42 percent shot at the postseason on opening day but as of Tuesday boasted a 74 percent chance to make the playoffs. Some of that is a byproduct of Boston’s poor start — the Red Sox had shed an MLB-high 39 points of playoff probability since starting the season — but the Rays are also a great example of a team that makes shrewd acquisitions and gets the most out of its talent. In addition to known commodities Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier and Blake Snell, Tampa is also getting unexpectedly great performances out of infielders Yandy Diaz and Brandon Lowe, right fielder Austin Meadows1Who is currently on the injured list. and pitcher Tyler Glasnow. Some of that quartet’s early numbers are bound to revert to the mean, but Diaz, Lowe and Meadows all rank among the top 20 percent of hitters in exit velocity, and Glasnow has elite underlying indicators. Although the injury-plagued Yankees are the AL East favorites in our model, no team currently has better wild-card odds than Tampa Bay.As we mentioned before the season, the Minnesota Twins figured to be right in the most precarious zone between making and missing the postseason. A few extra wins here or there, and the Twins’ playoff odds would increase massively; a few extra losses, and they might be left out in the October cold. So Minnesota has done itself a huge favor by getting off to a 17-10 start, which is third-best in baseball. Obvious star candidates such as Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios have played well, but the Twins’ hot April was fueled even more by breakout seasons from the likes of Jorge Polanco (162 adjusted on-base plus slugging), Eddie Rosario (130) and even catcher Mitch Garver (203). Minnesota’s rotation has huge questions beyond Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, but with the Indians’ talent advantage in the AL Central diminished relative to previous seasons, the Twins have played their way into what could be the division’s most interesting race in years.The St. Louis Cardinals are a little different from the Rays and Twins because we basically listed them as co-favorites (with the Brewers and Cubs) in the NL Central during spring training. Still, with an 85-win projection on the heels of a three-year playoff drought, the Cards’ postseason fate was far from assured. The team’s hot start, however, has set St. Louis up with a 67 percent chance of making the playoffs as of Tuesday — 23 percentage points higher than it was before the season started. Prized offseason acquisition Paul Goldschmidt has been his usual self, while lineup mates Paul DeJong, Marcell Ozuna, Kolten Wong and Dexter Fowler have exploded for huge seasons so far. It’s fair to wonder how long some of that can last: At age 33, Fowler is a little old to suddenly emerge as a 5-win player, while DeJong has a .607 slugging percentage despite an average exit velocity in the bottom third of MLB. But by the same token, the Cardinals’ pitching is probably better than its current 25th-place ranking in wins above replacement,2Using a mix of the WAR versions found at FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com. particularly once Carlos Martinez returns from injury this month. Whatever happens, St. Louis has given itself the early edge in a brutal division race.We’re good! OK, now what?The Texas Rangers got everybody’s attention over the weekend by blistering the Seattle Mariners by a combined score of 29-2 in back-to-back games. The Rangers are 14-14, but they also have a +9 run differential against a schedule that ranks second-toughest in baseball so far, according to the average Elo rating of its opponents. Texas wasn’t supposed to be competitive like this: They haven’t broken .500 since 2016, and they lost longtime franchise cornerstone Adrian Beltre to retirement over the offseason. But the team has seen a handful of pleasant surprises early on — starting with pitcher Mike Minor, who boasts the eighth-best adjusted earned run average (174) in the AL. Left fielder Joey Gallo has launched 10 home runs already, Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo have produced vintage seasons, and Danny Santana has recaptured the form that saw him vie for rookie of the year honors in 2014. But even with all that, Texas is still just third in the AL West, and our model gives it only a 7 percent chance of making the playoffs. In the race to the bottom for better picks, the Rangers were looking before the season like they might get a top-five selection in next summer’s MLB draft, but now their hot start might have them rethinking their rebuilding trajectory for the time being.Similarly, the Arizona Diamondbacks seemed destined for a rebuild after trading Goldschmidt to the Cardinals and watching free agents such as Patrick Corbin walk during the winter. Yet those plans might need to be put on hold in light of the team’s 17-13 start. According to our model, the D-backs on Tuesday had a 35 percent chance to make the playoffs (up 12 percentage points from preseason) and are on track to win 83 games, which would actually be an improvement on last year’s record despite the offseason talent exodus. First baseman Christian Walker (151 OPS+) has come out of nowhere with a scorching start, Zack Greinke continues to pitch like an ace, and closer Greg Holland hasn’t yet allowed a run. Arizona has gotten strong performances up and down the lineup, including from the likes of David Peralta, Adam Jones, Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Nick Ahmed and Jarrod Dyson. The Dodgers look too good to realistically be chased down in the West, but the D-backs are still in the NL’s playoff race, however improbably.The Seattle Mariners have cooled off some after their 13-2 start, going 5-12 since April 11. Even so, they’re another team with better playoff odds (15 percent as of Tuesday) than we’d expect from their offseason dealings — which included losing free agent slugger Nelson Cruz and trading ace pitcher James Paxton, closer Edwin Diaz and star second baseman Robinson Cano. Even through its recent slump, Seattle maintains MLB’s third-highest batting WAR courtesy of big years from Daniel Vogelbach (224 OPS+ !), Omar Narvaez (140) and Tim Beckham (139), to go with the usual mashing by Edwin Encarnacion (136), Domingo Santana (131) and Mitch Haniger (131). Starter Marco Gonzalez has also delivered an unexpectedly great season thus far, with a 150 ERA+ that has him leading the AL in pitching WAR. Seattle’s big home run rate (4.7 percent of all plate appearances) is out of line with its batted-ball metrics, and the team’s defense remains abysmal, so it’s no surprise that a regression has already begun to set in. But by virtue of their early record — still among the best in baseball — the Mariners will have to decide whether to try to end the franchise’s long-running playoff drought by making upgrades this season or to keep biding their time for a future postseason run.Check out our latest MLB predictions.CORRECTION (May 2, 2019, 11:40 a.m.): An earlier version of the table in this story listed the wrong division for three teams. The Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays play in the AL East, and the Philadelphia Phillies play in the NL East. RaysAL East19-915251539+13+32 D-backsNL West16-1314971510+12+12 Blue JaysAL East14-1414821488+6+2 CubsNL Central14-1215211527+6+6 MLB’s most improved teams since preseasonMLB teams with the largest change in FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings between opening day and April 30, 2019 Elo Ratingschange TwinsAL Central17-915081520+13+26 Statheads know that it usually takes roughly 70 games for baseball results to really start meaning something. On the first day of May a year ago, the New York Mets were 17-9 and the Los Angeles Dodgers were 12-16. Needless to say, both these teams’ fortunes would change: The Mets immediately collapsed into oblivion; the Dodgers went 80-55 the rest of the way and made the World Series. So the sensible move would be to sit tight and ignore the standings for a few more weeks.But we obviously aren’t going to do that — it’s too much fun to speculate about which hot starts are for real. And MLB’s first full month had plenty of interesting results: As some favorites’ playoff chances have receded, other teams have put themselves in strong postseason position already. Here are the teams that have improved the most in our MLB Elo ratings since opening day: PhilliesNL East16-1215191521+2+9 Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball Databank DodgersNL West19-1215621566+4+9 read more

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Art in schools get a pat on the back

Art in schools get a pat on the back

first_imgIf anyone thought that the talented artists could only be found in the art galleries – they could not be more wrong! The schools across the Capital are churning out brilliant artworks by not only students – but teachers as well.Here’s another feather in the cap for Chiranjiv Bharati School (Palam Vihar). Biplav Rej of Chiranjiv Bharati School-Palam Vihar (Art Department) was felicitated and awarded the prestigious Delhi State Award for his Scratch paintings in a glittering function on 19 September.Celebrating the works of the artist were a host of dignitaries and chief minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit. The award was presented to him by Dikshit at Delhi Sachivalaya Auditorium. Rej received a shawl, certificate and a cheque for Rs.25000. The function was well attended by other artists as well.last_img read more

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