RT @sarcastic_f: The study appeared in Arch Gen Psychiatry: Personality Change During Depression Treatment: A Placebo-Controlled Trial h ...

sandygautam: RT @sarcastic_f: The study appeared in Arch Gen Psychiatry: Personality Change During Depression Treatment: A Placebo-Controlled Trial h ...

See original: Twitter RT @sarcastic_f: The study appeared in Arch Gen Psychiatry: Personality Change During Depression Treatment: A Placebo-Controlled Trial h ...

RT @sarcastic_f: New slogan for Paxil: it may not cure your depression, but you'll become less neurotic and more extroverted!

sandygautam: RT @sarcastic_f: New slogan for Paxil: it may not cure your depression, but you'll become less neurotic and more extroverted!

See original: Twitter RT @sarcastic_f: New slogan for Paxil: it may not cure your depression, but you'll become less neurotic and more extroverted!

@punetech you missed trak.in (india business blog) ...I guess that too is a pune based blog nominated in business category

sandygautam: @punetech you missed trak.in (india business blog) ...I guess that too is a pune based blog nominated in business category

See original: Twitter @punetech you missed trak.in (india business blog) ...I guess that too is a pune based blog nominated in business category

resupplied the space station and delivered valuable spare parts

resupplied the space station and delivered valuable spare parts.

The ISS continues to be home for five astronauts of Expedition 21.

The

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See original: Astronomy Picture of the Day resupplied the space station and delivered valuable spare parts

Liked "Citemine" http://ff.im/cA1GL

EvoMRI: Liked "Citemine" http://ff.im/cA1GL

See original: Twitter Liked "Citemine" http://ff.im/cA1GL

SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Virgin Galactic Debut and More

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See the world's first commercial spaceship, the first direct picture of a planet orbiting a sunlike star, the deepest known image of the universe, and more in our selection of the week's best space pictures.





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See original: National Geographic News SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Virgin Galactic Debut and More

Bears Go Bald at Zoo; Experts Stumped

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Three spectacled bears at Germany's Leipzig Zoo have mysteriously lost their fur, and no one knows why they developed the non-life-threatening condition.





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Maurice Strong on his Motivation in Life

Interview with Maurice Strong, former Secretary General of the 92 Earth Summit and Earth Charter Commissioner, on his motivation to do the work he has been doing for so many years. By Mirian Vilela, Earth Charter International. September 2009
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MVB (Curmudgeon of FF): For Krynsky

MVB (Curmudgeon of FF)
For Krynsky
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Steven Perez, Ton Zijp, Kol Tregaskes and 25 other people liked this
The forecast says it doesn´t freeze over until thursday this week: http://www.yr.no/place... But that particular sign is perhaps Hell, Michigan, USA ? - Thomas Bøhm
*LOL* Merry Hell! In Mississippi no less! - Rene Wirtz
Hah... - Mark Krynsky

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Getting Aggressive on Climate Action

The greenhouse gas emission cuts advocated by the Mikhail Gorbachev’s Climate Change Task Force (CCTF) are aggressive – a stabilization of emissions in five years, a reduction of 45-50 percent in the next 10 years and a virtually carbon-free global economy by mid-century.

Those goals are in line with the cuts leading climate scientists say are necessary to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, but they are far ahead of the reductions being proposed so far by major polluters such as the United States and Europe.

The EU has committed to cut its emissions 20 percent by 2020, less than half the CCTT goal (It has offered to raise its goal to 30 percent if other developed countries do the same). President Barack Obama has set a U.S. target that would reduce emissions only about 4 percent by 2020 – less than a tenth of the CCTT target.

But while the CCTF’s proposal is very ambitious, the task force is in good company. For example:
o The International Monetary Fund announced last week that aggressive carbon cutting need not hurt the world economy. Reuters quoted an IMF report as concluding (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B330320091204):
Governments can adopt more ambitious carbon pricing schemes to address the effects of climate change without harming the global economic recovery (and) the slow recovery underway should not distract countries from introducing measures to reduce emissions that cause climate change.

o In last Sunday’s New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman concluded (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tn...) :

…cutting greenhouse gas emissions is affordable as well as essential. Serious studies say that we can achieve sharp reductions in emissions with only a small impact on the economy’s growth. And the depressed economy is no reason to wait — on the contrary, an agreement in Copenhagen would probably help the economy recover.

o Informed by Mr. Gorbachev of the CCTF goals, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called them “very timely and profound, particularly as they relate to the emphasis on the urgency of global action and the need for a recalibration of the planetary response.”

The most common argument against aggressive climate action is that it would hurt the global economy, but that reasoning ignores a few important points.

For example, in developed economies that must make the biggest carbon cuts in the years just ahead, aggressive energy efficiency can help insulate consumers from higher fossil energy prices, whether caused by declining fuel supplies and increasing demand, or carbon pricing. President Obama pointed out during his presidential campaign that the United States has been ranked 22nd in energy efficiency among developed nations. He promised to lead an effort to make America the most efficient economy in the world. But so far, he has not made a serious effort to rally his nation towards that goal.

In Europe – far more acclimated to energy efficiency than the U.S. – there still is significant potential for reducing energy use, and therefore the cost of energy for consumers, and therefore the impact of carbon pricing.

Those efforts should begin now, in advance of 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

In addition, the hundreds of billions of dollars that must be invested worldwide in climate action, ranging from clean energy technologies to adaptation measures, can be a robust form of economic activity, creating jobs while they protect the global economy from the disruptive vicissitudes that have been, and will continue to be, characteristic of fossil fuels.

Indeed, a study by the Pew Center for Global Climate Change found that between 1998 and 2007, “green” jobs for blue- and white-collar workers in the United States grew nearly three times as fast as other employment – 9.1 percent compared to 3.7 percent. A worldwide effort to build and deploy renewable energy technologies such as solar collectors and wind turbines can put unemployed people, from steelworkers to machinists, back into the labor market.

Aggressive goals to reduce climate change and its impacts are aggressive investments in the world’s future. That’s worthy of stretch goals that inspire the international community’s very best efforts.

See original: Climate Change Task Force Getting Aggressive on Climate Action

Boom-boom-krak-oo - Campbell's monkeys combine just six 'words' into rich vocabulary [Not Exactly Rocket Science]

Many human languages achieve great diversity by combining basic words into compound ones - German is a classic example of this. We're not the only species that does this. Campbell's monkeys have just six basic types of calls but they have combined them into one of the richest and most sophisticated of animal vocabularies.

Campbell's-monkey.jpgBy chaining calls together in ways that drastically alter their meaning, they can communicate to each other about other falling trees, rival groups, harmless animals and potential threats. They can signal the presence of an unspecified threat, a leopard or an eagle, and even how imminent the danger is. It's a front-runner for the most complex example of animal "proto-grammar" so far discovered.

Many studies have shown that the chirps and shrieks of monkeys are rich in information, ever since Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth's seminal research on vervet monkeys. They showed that vervets have specific calls for different predators - eagles, leopards and snakes - and they'll take specific evasive manoeuvres when they hear each alarm.

Campbell's monkeys have been equally well-studied. Scientists used to think that they made two basic calls - booms and hacks - and that the latter were predator alarms. Others then discovered that the order of the calls matters, so adding a boom before a hack cancels out the predator message. It also turned out that there were five distinct types of hack, including some that were modified with an -oo suffix. So Campbell's monkeys not only have a wider repertoire of calls than previously thought, but they can also combine them in meaningful ways.

Now, we know that the males make six different types of calls, comically described as boom (B), krak (K), krak-oo (K+), hok (H), hok-oo (H+) and wak-oo (W+). To decipher their meaning,  Karim Ouattara spent 20 months in the Ivory Coast's Tai National Park studying the wild Campbell's monkeys from six different groups. Each consists of a single adult male together with several females and youngsters. And it's the males he focused on.

With no danger in sight, males make three call sequences. The first - a pair of booms - is made when the monkey is far away from the group and can't see them. It's a summons that draws the rest of the group towards him. Adding a krak-oo to the end of the boom pair changes its meaning. Rather than "Come here", the signal now means "Watch out for that branch". Whenever the males cried "Boom-boom-krak-oo", other monkeys knew that there were falling trees or branches around (or fighting monkeys overhead that could easily lead to falling vegetation). 

Interspersing the booms and krak-oos with some hok-oos changes the meaning yet again. This call means "Prepare for battle", and it's used when rival groups or strange males have showed up. In line with this translation, the hok-oo calls are used far more often towards the edge of the monkeys' territories than they are in the centre. The most important thing about this is that hok-oo is essentially meaningless. The monkeys never say it in isolation - they only use it to change the meaning of another call.

But the most complex calls are reserved for threats. When males know that danger is afoot but don't have a visual sighting (usually because they've heard a suspicious growl or an alarm from other monkeys), they make a few krak-oos. 

If they know it's a crowned eagle that endangers the group, they combine krak-oo and wak-oo calls. And if they can actually see the bird, they add hoks and hok-oos into the mix - these extra components tell other monkeys that the peril is real and very urgent.  Leopard alarms were always composed of kraks, and sometimes krak-oos. Here, it's the proportion of kraks that signals the imminence of danger - the males don't make any if they've just heard leopard noises, but they krak away if they actually see the cat. 

The most important part of these results is the fact that calls are ordered in very specific ways. So boom-boom-krak-oo means a falling branch, but boom-krak-oo-boom means nothing. Some sequences act as units that can be chained together to more complicated ones - just as humans use words, clauses and sentences. They can change meaning by adding meaningless calls onto meaningful ones (BBK+ for falling wood but BBK+H+ for neighbours) or by chaining meaningful sequences together (K+K+ means leopard but W+K+ means eagle).

Campbells_monkey_calls.jpg

It's tempting to think that monkeys have hidden linguistic depths to rival those of humans but as Ouattara says, "This system pales in contrast to the communicative power of grammar." They monkeys' repertoire may be rich, but it's still relatively limited and they don't take full advantage of their vocabulary. They can create new meanings by chaining calls together, but never by inverting their order (e.g. KB rather than BK).  Our language is also symbolic. I can tell you about monkeys even though none are currently scampering about my living room, but Ouattara only found that Campbell's monkeys "talk" about things that they actually see.

Nonetheless, you have to start somewhere, and the complexities of human syntax probably have their evolutionary origins in these sorts of call combinations. So far, the vocabulary of Campbell's monkeys far outstrips those of other species, but this may simply reflect differences in research efforts. Other studies have started to find complex vocabularies in other forest-dwellers like Diana monkeys and putty-nosed monkeys. Ouattara thinks that forest life, with many predators and low visibility, may have provided strong evolutionary pressures for monkeys to develop particularly sophisticated vocal skills.

And there are probably hidden depths to the sequences of monkey calls that we haven't even begun to peer into yet. For instance, what calls do female Campbell's monkeys make? Even for the males, the meanings in this study only become apparent after months of intensive field work and detailed statistical analysis. The variations that happen on a call-by-call basis still remain a mystery to us. The effect would be like looking at Jane Austen's oeuvre and concluding, "It appears that these sentences signify the presence of posh people".

Reference: PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.0908118106

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select Boom-boom-krak-oo - Campbell's monkeys combine just six 'words' into rich vocabulary [Not Exactly Rocket Science]