(Visited 115 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 At least 40 baleen whales and other species of marine mammals fossilized in a dry desert of Chile have been explained with a “toxic bloom” theory. Does it explain all the findings?The discovery was a sensation when announced in 2011 (see 11/14/11): fossil whale skeletons inland from the coast of Chile, perfectly preserved in dense numbers. “There’s never been a find of this size, or of this diversity, anywhere in the world,” one spokesman said on a video clip posted by the BBC. (although for density and size, it needs to compete with other well-known sites like the La Brea tar pits). The Cerro Ballena (“whale hill”) website, sponsored by the Smithsonian, has a map showing the individual fossils and their locations, along with photographs, videos and other information.Now that scientists have documented some 40 specimens and carted them off to labs, they have a theory to explain how they got where they are, published in the Royal Society Proceedings B (open access). About 6.5 to 9 million years ago, they believe, there was a series of toxic blooms of algae (probably dinoflagellates that cause the well-known “red tides” today). Whales and other large marine mammals ingesting infected fish probably died and were washed ashore. Moreover, since the whales were found at four levels, this probably happened multiple times over an estimated period of 16,000 years. New Scientist, Science Magazine, Live Science and the BBC News have echoed this explanation.The theory needs to account for several unusual facts:The whales were mostly found in a belly up position, mostly in the same direction along a line parallel to the coast.Many of the whales were articulated and complete.Along with baleen whales, the fossil graveyard includes sharks, seals, dolphins (including “dolphins that evolved a walrus-like face”), and “bizarre aquatic sloths.”The fossils are encased in fine-grained sediment. There is orange soil in places that might be remnant of toxic algae, but the researchers are not sure.Some of the bones seem to have marks made by crabs. “Given the unique food resource provided by marine mammal carcasses, it is not surprising to find scavenging traces on individual balaenopterid bones that we attribute to crabs,” the authors say.Hundreds more fossils may exist in the graveyard. The researchers only had two weeks to excavate before a stretch of the Pan-American Highway was built over the site.The site today is on the edge of one of the driest deserts in the world: the Atacama Desert.In order to explain why the carcasses would have been slowly buried by sand, the theory claims that there were no large land predators at the time. Still, they would have needed to be washed up high enough to escape the ravaging effects of marine predators (worms, bacteria, etc.) and seabirds. It would seem normal high tides would be incapable of getting the whale carcasses high enough above the surf; perhaps storm surges did it. Unless sand buried them quickly during the surge, though, it’s not clear how they would have been buried by sand in time to become fossilized. But then, how did crabs get to the bones? Why would this mechanism occur four times in a few thousand years (1/200 the assumed 3.5 million years of the deposit), and not more? None of the articles mentioned these or other problems with the theory. Instead, they presented the theory as a triumph of science. “This is an awesome snapshot of deep time,” a Stanford marine biologist said, even though he had just remarked that the findings “are revealing something that we didn’t know anything about.”While we can all be amazed and delighted over this discovery, we must deplore the uncritical treatment by the media. They seem incapable of thinking logically or asking the tough questions that reporters ask of politicians. They just regurgitate the explanation scientists give, never thinking to themselves, “That doesn’t make sense.” They rarely go off and compare this site with other sites, like the Peru location that has 346 whale fossils buried in diatomaceous earth (2/02/04). Reporters just stumble about from story to story, copying the thinking of the shamans, doing little more than rewriting some of the boilerplate text in their own words.The official explanation could be correct; nobody knows, because no humans were there. Several aspects don’t add up, as mentioned above. There doesn’t appear to be any reason to postulate four distinct episodes, just because they are found in layers. A single storm surge or flood can deposit multiple layers. If “hundreds” more whales exist in the deposit, it becomes less credible to imagine placid red tides killing that many large marine mammals and depositing them high above the highest tides, where they sat in the open air long enough for crabs to gnaw on their bones, but the bones never scattered till they were buried in sand. This happened at least 4 times?Reporters toss around the “millions of years” like word salad. But millions of years doesn’t help. It makes the story less credible. Are we to believe that all these fossils were deposited in 16,000 years, just one half of one percent of the assumed age of the deposit? What happened the other 99.5% of the time? Were there no red tides for millions of years? No storm surges? There should be over 200 times as many whale graveyards in those strata if that much time elapsed and this was a routine occurrence.Learn to ask questions the reporters never ask. Think logically, rather than taking their words on faith. Faith is supposed to be a no-no in science, isn’t it? Scientists and reporters treat faith the way Finagle treats miracles: “Don’t believe in faith; rely on it.”
Xenophobia means “fear of others”. InSouth Africa it has come to mean“hatred of others”, a peculiar racismagainst immigrants from other Africancountries.(Image: Treatment Action Campaign)Janine ErasmusThe recent brutal attacks by South Africans on foreign Africans living in South Africa have shocked the world. An estimated 56 people from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and elsewhere in Africa – including many from South Africa itself – have been murdered. Many more have been driven from their homes, with up to 35 000 packed into makeshift shelters in an unseasonably cold and wet South African winter.Then there’s Ernesto Nhamwavane, a young Mozambican house-painter who came home every evening to a shack in the Reiger Park informal settlement in the east of Johannesburg – until two weeks ago. Photographs of the 22-year-old Nhamwavane kneeling and dying on the street, covered in flames set by slow-burning wood, have been published across the world. They are terrible images, and only a random document of what has been done to many others.The world has been horrified. So have most South Africans. Before Nhamwavane was murdered, his South African neighbours in the Reiger Park shackland had urged him to leave, and helped him get out a back way. When he took a wrong turn into the mob, and was stabbed and set alight, the local South Africans sent a young girl to get help. It was too late.Velda Plaatjies lives in Reiger Park. As David Stephens of the South African Red Cross walked the streets of the settlement a few days after Nhamwavane’s murder, she approached him.“Velda opened her purse,” Stephens said. “I could see what was in it. She had just R10 but she said, take it, it’s my bread money, but rather use it to help the people. She fished around in her pocket and came up with another R2. That R12 was for me the most wonderful contribution, because it was all she had.”Plaatjies’s R12 has been one contribution of many.“South Africans have been coming in droves to help. It’s been overwhelming,” Stephens said. “We’ve received donations ranging from R5 to R10 000 from individuals alone. All over the country people have poured out their hearts, saying emphatically that we’re not all xenophobic.”“Xenophobia” means “fear of others”. In South Africa, sadly, it has come to mean “hatred of others”, a peculiar racism against immigrants from other African countries.“We’re not against foreigners,” Stephens said. “We want them to come and live here.”The violence has been overwhelming. But, according to Stephens, the spirit of ubuntu, the African philosophy of humanity to others, has never been more alive than now. “People have come together to support medical and social interventions. We’ve received assistance from those of all faiths.”Gift of the GiversDr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder and chair of South African Islamic disaster relief NGO Gift of the Givers, says the organisation has so far given over R2-million to victims of the violence.“We took action on 12 May, the first night of the attacks, supplying 200 blankets and 200 loaves of bread to victims in Alex,” he says. Alexandra township just east of Johannesburg was the scene of the first acts of xenophobia.“Two nights later we supplied more aid, on a bigger scale, because by then 450 people needed assistance. The next day we brought in food, clothes, parcels, tents, and we were starting to realise that the situation was a lot bigger than we suspected at first. After the crisis in Primrose, we went in with 3,000 blankets. It was chaos – people were everywhere and it was like a war zone.” Primrose, on the east side of Johannesburg, has been one of the hardest-hit areas, with gangs of thugs actively seeking out foreigners in door-to-door searches.Gift of the Givers expanded its operations to other areas to help those in need. On 18 May, less than a week after the violence broke out, the organisation made R1-million of supplies available to many affected areas, including Primrose, Thembisa, Boksburg, Jeppestown, and others.“Because the public bombarded us with requests to help, on 19 May we set up a truck at the Village Walk [a shopping centre in the business suburb of Sandton],” says Sooliman.“The response was phenomenal. This, to me, showed the true spirit of the new South Africa. People from all walks of life, in huge expensive cars and old battered cars, came to contribute. They poured in to help in their thousands, and without exception the attitude was that this is not who we are, this is not what we stand for.”Other similar initiatives followed at centres around the country, with just as overwhelming a response from a public that is, almost to a person, concerned and disgusted with the criminal acts.The organisation has also given aid to refugees returning to their countries. ‘We’ve been contacted by the embassies of Bangladesh, Mozambique and Malawi, to help their people wherever possible. We provided food for 2,000 returning Mozambican refugees. We paid for buses to take Malawians home. If they want to go home, we will help them.“Still there is need for our assistance, and people come forward constantly to ask us what they can give. We will continue to assess the situation and make whatever interventions we can.”South African business steps inThe Red Cross has also received substantial donations from major corporations. Standard Bank has donated R3-million. Multinational petroleum company BP has pledged R250 000. Mobile services provider MTN has given R1.5-million, airtime to the value of R35 000, and branded clothing worth R700 000.Retail chain Pick n Pay has donated R100 000 and is collecting food for refugees in all its stores. And, says Stephens, the South African Revenue Service has donated tons of illegally imported clothing it has seized at South African ports.“From a Red Cross perspective,” says Stephens, “I’m proud to be South African because of the way our countrymen have responded to the crisis.”The help goes on. The Development Bank of Southern Africa, together with the Industrial Development Corporation, have set up a R20-million fund to support humanitarian relief. Local municipalities will disburse most of the money, with the Red Cross receiving R2-million.The Development Bank has also funded an inquiry into the violence, to be carried out by the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equity. These are two of South Africa’s “institutions in support of democracy”, bodies set in law by the country’s Constitution.South African Airways, the national carrier, is donating R750 000 to the Red Cross and another R250 000 to Johannesburg’s Central Methodist Church, which has offered shelter to refugees for decades.Youth mobilising against violenceThato Moeng of popular youth radio station YFM says listeners phone in constantly to denounce the xenophobic attacks on air. Spearheaded by breakfast DJ Sbu Leope, the station recently added its contribution to the relief efforts by delivering food and blankets to destitute refugees in the Thokoza township in Ekurhuleni municipality, east of Johannesburg. Contributions came from the station’s audience.“We went to the Thokoza city hall, where about 500 people have taken refuge,” says Moeng. “It was horrid. We heard such terrible stories from the people. Talking to them, we found that some want to go home, but most of them want to stay, because there are more opportunities here than at home.”DJ Sbu and other celebrities such as Nhlanhla Nciza from award-winning music group Mafikizolo and Tumisho Masha of television lifestyle programme Top Billing, as well as a member of the mayoral committee in Ekurhuleni, gave speeches of hope to the people and reassured them that most South Africans are against the violence.Earlier in the week the station organised a peaceful protest march against xenophobia, which took place in Wattville, Ekurhuleni. This area is one of many affected by the horrors of xenophobic violence. YFM’s efforts to fight the violence will continue. Throughout the day on the station, which boasts a weekly listenership of more than one million youth between the ages of 14 and 30, DJs voice their own condemnation of the violence and, says Sbu, “We see that our actions are helping, and we cannot stop.”Condemning xenophobia onlineA number of anti-xenophobia groups have sprung up on popular social networking site Facebook, all created by outraged South Africans. One of them is South Africans Against Xenophobia, Racialism and Tribalism, set up by Tshepo Thlaku. At the time of writing the group had over 6.000 members. People visiting the page are encouraged to donate and support in any way they can, and contact details of relevant organisations are supplied.Michael Moss, a 17-year-old Johannesburg schoolboy, has created a group called End Xenophobic Violence in South Africa. “Something must be done to protect the rights of all people living in South Africa regardless of if they are citizens or not,” he says on the group’s home page, which also provides contact details of aid organisations for those who want to contribute. Moss’s group had over 12,000 members at the time of writing.With almost 3 400 members, The World United Against Barbaric Attacks in South Africa is another Facebook group denouncing xenophobia. “Xenophobia has no room in our society,” says the group’s creator, South African Kondeon Kondleka.The nature of comments on all groups varies. Whether positive or negative, many of them are emotional. However, the majority of comments echo the sentiments of the rest of the world in condemning the violence.A South African website called United for Africa has been set up in order to help keep track of incidents of xenophobia happening in Southern Africa, and as a platform for people to anonymously report them.“This portal looks to empower each one of us to make a difference, both in terms of keeping each other informed and providing assistance to those who are being persecuted,” says the introduction on the home page. “If you see or hear anything please report it. Through our collective efforts we can force local and international governments to be frank, honest and responsive to this situation.”The website also works with NGOs and related organisations to verify incidents, and to assist those who need it most. It calls for donations of all kinds, whether financial, food, clothes, blankets and anything else that will be of use, and provides a list of drop-off points around the country. Those who are unable to give material goods may donate R10 by sending a text message, together with their name and area, to 38871.Working around the clock to helpRelief organisations are working around the clock. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has to date distributed some 2,000 blankets and 2,000 mats to police stations across Gauteng province. Many of the displaced have sought refuge at police stations, community centres, and army bases around the country.The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is working in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Pretoria to provide emergency relief supplies to vulnerable babies, children and their mothers. The agency is also assisting with fortified cereals for young children. Unicef reports that it will help establish playgroups and crèches to help traumatised children find stability.Municipalities around the country have mobilised their communities to contribute to the relief efforts. Newspapers are conducting campaigns amongst their readers. The humanitarian crisis sparked by xenophobic attacks has united South Africans in a common cause.Want to help? Contact the organisations below or visit the Wild Frontier blog at The Times, which supplies a list of organisations. Talk radio station 702 also provides an extensive list of organisations involved in relief efforts.Related articlesMbeki condemns attacks‘I am deeply, deeply sorry’: TutuUseful linksThe Wild Frontier702 – list of organisationsSouth African Red Cross +27 11 873 6364Doctors Without Borders +27 11 403 4440United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees South Africa +27 12 354 8300Gift of the Givers +27 33 345 0163The Salvation Army South Africa +27 11 718 6700End Xenophobic Violence in South Africa (Facebook)
In a series of five articles, we share stories from Gift of the Givers volunteers in their own words as the organisation marks its 25th year of serving humanity. Ahmed Bham is the head of search and rescue. Find out about his experience in Haiti.Volunteering for Gift of the Givers taught Bham more about himself and motivated him to study further. (Image: Gift of the Givers)Sulaiman PhilipAhmed Bham: Head of search and rescue and lecturer in emergency medical care in the North West provincial Department of HealthI lead the first Gift of the Givers team to arrive in Haiti in 2010. We comprised a team of 10 search and rescue and advanced life support paramedics. Our medical team set up a field hospital while the search and rescue team began looking for surviviors in the rubble in Port au Prince. For seven days we recovered only bodies. We moved on to the Catholic cathedral where our dogs indicated there may be a survivor. After two-and-a-half hours of searching we pulled Ana Zizi from the rubble. This 69-year-old woman had been buried under the rubble for 10 days, her first words, in French, were: “God is great.” She looked at me and said: “I love you”.We stabilised her at our field hospital before she was shipped to a US Navy ship for further treatment. The whole time we talked, through my interpreter. When I told her we were from South Africa she said: “Look how amazing God is that he brought you all the way from South Africa to recue me.”I think for the first time I realised that things were done through us and not by us. I believe that is why I volunteer for the Gift of the Givers; it is a spiritual organisation guided by a desire to serve and help all of humanity. We, the volunteers and staff, come from all backgrounds and are driven by the same passion and purpose. Dr Sooliman will not compromise on that principle. Everyone is given humanitarian aid and the same level of medical care and treatment regardless.“I get to serve and represent my beloved country and show the world what Africa has to offer. We are a unique and amazing nation. I know the spirit of ubuntu lives in us.” (Image: Gift of the Givers)Wherever I arrive I am already looking at the logistics, how can we assist and what are the needs. It’s a calling and passion that I am driven to fulfill. As a volunteer travelling into a disaster zone, you have a picture in you mind of what its going to be like, but the reality can sometimes be overwhelming. You learn to adapt to the situation on the ground.Every mission I have gone on has taught me lessons, has given me that feeling of contentment and self-fulfilment. In 2005, I was honoured to be selected to go to Pakistan to help in the aftermath of the earthquake. Many of my personal foundation lessons were learnt there. It was an experience that opened my soul and I learnt a lot about myself and humanity. After Haiti I was more confident in myself and I felt encouraged and motivated to study further so I could do more.My mum passed away when she was only 38, but it was through her that I was first exposed to humanitarian work. I am still inspired by her and I can honestly say the proudest moments in my life have been away on humanitarian missions. I feel that I am fulfilling my mum’s purpose in life by serving humanity. There is also the other side of it: I get to serve and represent my beloved country and show the world what Africa has to offer. We are a unique and amazing nation. I know the spirit of ubuntu lives in us. I have not just seen it, but I have lived it many a time.Read the next article about orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Livan Meneses-Turino, and his experience in Nepal, Haiti, and Palestine.Our first profile was on medical co-ordinator, Dr YM Essack. Click here to read more.To find out how beekeeper, Owen Williams, has contributed to the organisation, click here.Emily Thomas, who works in logistics at Gift of the Givers shares her story.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
Could this be a clue?Share with your Friends:More The “holy grail of geocaching” and the treasure chestMystery or puzzle caches are exactly that – a mystery. An enigma, if you will.In Niedersachen, Enigma #1 (GC448A) ranks high among mystery caches in Germany. The cache is more than 10 years old, and despite all advances in technology, still remains a true difficulty 5, terrain 3 geocache. Even its final coordinates are a mystery.The cache became so famous that a geocacher placed the “holy grail of geocaching” in the cache container to symbolize its status and influence on the geocaching community.The cache page includes a link to a list of 10 difficult questions (in German). The answers are essential to understanding and deciphering three detailed maps. The treasure-seeking adventure is filled with hikes, some are steep at times. It is comprised of outdoor and indoor paths as well as detours as you interpret the maps and navigate with GPS.Impressed with the mystery cache, Chris, a.k.a. famerlor_dragon nominated this recent find. He says, “Every German geocacher wants to go here at one time. It was truly a rewarding experience doing the cache myself.”logbookChris continues to explain, “As you draw closer to the cache, hoping that your last coordinates are good, sweat dripping from your forehead and then finally you see the waymark from your last treasure map and you know you are right and the cache is within reach. Opening the big box (it has recently been replaced – I am sure new pictures will be there within a very few weeks) and holding the grail is a very rewarding experience. One of a kind.”Over 1,500 geocachers who logged a smiley agree with Chris. The mystery cache has earned 763 Favorite Points, and geocachers are not holding back on their extensive logs describing their exhilarating experiences.Another geocacher logged this find saying, “We spent a lot of time preparing. A lot. It took a few months before we felt confident enough to tackle this four-stage mystery cache. Today it was time. I read two days ago that the box is gone and that the owner had already placed a new box on the ground. The experience is exhilarating. We found ourselves getting mad and we found ourselves laughing. Most of all, we found the beauty in this game through this cache. Thanks Vinnie & nici for an extraordinary experience!”Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Latitude 47 blog or view the Bookmark List on Geocaching.com.If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache, and the GC code to email@example.com. SharePrint RelatedTop 10 Geocaches of the Week 2017December 27, 2017In “Geocache of the Week”The name says it all. — Director’s A-Mazing Treasure Hunt (GC3Y1GE) — Geocache of the WeekSeptember 10, 2014In “Community”ENIGMA (GC427TF) — Geocache of the WeekDecember 17, 2015In “Community”
Blog posts are fairly common byproducts of Passivhaus residential construction. This is due in part to the relative novelty of projects aspiring to the Passivhaus standard, both in this country and in the United Kingdom. In dozens of blogs, homeowners and builders have chronicled the victories, challenges, and setbacks they faced on the way to Passvihaus certification.Some paths to Passivhaus, though, seem more fraught with intensity and leavened with comic observation than you might expect.Case in point is “Almost Passive House,” a blog tracking the progress of a single-family project in Brattleboro, Vermont. Scott Gibson alerted GBA readers to the project back in April, and new developments have come into play since.The blog is co-written by Andrea and Ted Lemon, who grew up in climates with cold winters (he in Massachusetts, she in Chicago), lived for a time in Tucson, and, upon moving to Vermont, decided they would build a very energy-efficient house. Although they initially weren’t planning to seek Passivhaus certification, they were committed to putting in a fair amount of sweat equity into the construction of the house.An evolving visionAndrea points out that Ted is from a family accustomed to managing construction projects, while she is a Web designer whose familiarity with construction tilted steeply toward zero. “In my family we consider it a big accomplishment to hang a picture successfully…,” she wrote in a June 2010 post. Since then, however, she has become immersed in the particulars, and she is now the project’s general contractor.The couple’s posts highlight deliberations over materials, design and construction strategies, and a number of significant compromises: the 2,200-sq.-ft. house has been redesigned to be about 300 sq. ft. smaller than originally envisioned. Plans for a cathedral ceiling were scrapped in favor of a sloping shed roof. The footprint of the two-story house has been simplified to a 46-by-26-ft. rectangle, and budget priorities for finishes have been realigned.The project also hasn’t seen as much DIY activity as anticipated. Currently, the construction budget is creeping close to $450,000, including a photovoltaic system, solar hot water, and a detached two-car garage.But still, construction is progressing. The house will sit atop recently installed piers of reinforced concrete, which are pinned to the rock sitting just beneath the topsoil on the sloping 2-acre lot. The garage foundation has been poured, woodcutting is underway, and decisions have been made on a number of important details.According to Andrea:The floor deck will be constructed of 11 7/8-in. I-joists (16 in. on center) and will be insulated with dense-packed cellulose with 4 in. of polyisocyanurate underneath.Wall framing will consist of 9.5-in. I-joists, 24 in. on center, filled with dense-packed cellulose. The walls will be sheathed with 4 in. of exterior polyiso.The rafters will be 24-in.-deep I-joists filled with dense-packed cellulose.The windows are from Schuco (Schuco SI-82+). South-facing windows will have Climatop Max glazing (with a SHGC 0.6); Climatop Ultra-N glazing (SHGC of 0.5) will be used everywhere else.The couple also has been comparing two heat recovery ventilators: the Zehnder ComfoAir 350 and the top-of-the-line Zehnder Novus 300, which costs about $1,400 more but operates about 10% more efficiently.Going to the mat for PassivhausAs for their Passivhaus/Almost Passive House debate, Andrea and Ted announced last month that, by unanimous vote, they decided to “bite the bullet” and go for Passivhaus certification. In a blog posted a few weeks earlier, Andrea summarized much of what went into their thinking on the subject: “Why bother? I don’t think I’m attached to having a certified Passivhaus. As you can see from the name of the website, I’m quite satisfied with our not-quite-passiv status. Also, I seriously doubt it will make a difference on resale whether the house is certified or not, since it’s going to be a freaky-efficient house either way.“But there’s a symbolic value to getting certified,” she continued. “Only a handful of certified Passive Houses have been built in the United States, which means it’s still an inspiring new concept. One of our major goals in building an energy-efficient house is to inspire other builders and homeowners, and having the Passivhaus label and certificate will help get the word out.”More recently, the couple has partnered with Efficiency Vermont – a ratepayer-funded utility that provides technical assistance to businesses and homeowners aiming to reduce their energy costs – which, Andrea says, plans to monitor the home’s performance. The project team includes energy consultant Marc Rosenbaum of South Mountain Company, foundation and framing specialist Eli Gould of Ironwood Brand, consulting architect Camilo Cerro, and structural engineer Ben Brungraber of Fire Tower Engineered Timber.
Add flares to your video shots using this simple in-camera DIY solution.There’s a ton of ways to add flares to your videos in post, but there’s no substitute for achieving this organic effect in-camera. We’re digging this DIY technique by recent creativeLIVE presenter Lindsay Adler.In the short video below, Lindsay demonstrates how she created a custom flare filter using a cheap crystal (bought online) and a simple lens filter (a low cost UV filter does the trick). By gluing the crystal to directly to the filter, you can create unique refracted light effects that give the video image a dream-like quality. This DIY solution, is super cheap and easy to create.This isn’t a technique that you’ll use on a ton of shots – but given the right subject matter (fashion or weddings, for example) it’s one that can be really impactful.Check out the quick tutorial and example shots below – a snippet from Lindsay’s full creativeLIVE workshop “Keep it Simple: Video for Photographers“.Thanks to DIYPhotography.net for tipping us off to this video.