Friday, March 25, 2005
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - For more than a century, the study of dinosaurs has been limited to fossilized bones. Now, researchers have recovered 70-million-year-old soft tissue, including what may be blood vessels and cells, from a Tyrannosaurus rex.
If scientists can isolate proteins from the material, they may be able to learn new details of how dinosaurs lived, said lead researcher Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University.
"We're doing a lot of stuff in the lab right now that looks promising," she said in a telephone interview. But, she said, she does not know yet if scientists will be able to isolate dinosaur DNA from the materials.
It was recovered dinosaur DNA — the blueprint for life — that was featured in the fictional recreation of the ancient animals in the book and film "Jurassic Park."
The soft tissues were recovered from the thighbone of a T. rex, known as MOR 1125, that was found in a sandstone formation in Montana. The dinosaur was about 18 years old when it died.
The bone was broken when it was removed from the site. Schweitzer and her colleagues then analyzed the material inside the bone.
"The vessels and contents are similar in all respects to blood vessels recovered from ... ostrich bone," they reported in a paper bring published Friday in the journal Science.
Because evidence has accumulated in recent years that modern birds descended from dinosaurs, Schweitzer said she chose to compare the dinosaur remains with those of an ostrich, the largest bird available.
Brooks Hanson, a deputy editor of Science, noted that there are few examples of soft tissues, except for leaves or petrified wood, that are preserved as fossils, just as there are few discoveries of insects in amber or humans and mammoths in peat or ice.
Soft tissues are rare in older finds. "That's why in a 70-million-year-old fossil it is so interesting," he said.
Matthew Carrano, curator of dinosaurs at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, said the discovery was "pretty exciting stuff."
"You are actually getting into the small-scale biology of the animal, which is something we rarely get the opportunity to look at," said Carrano, who was not part of the research team.
In addition, he said, it is a huge opportunity to learn more about how fossils are made, a process that is not fully understood.
Richard A. Hengst of Purdue University said the finding "opens the door for research into the protein structure of ancient organisms, if nothing else. While we think that nature is conservative in how things are built, this gives scientists an opportunity to observe this at the chemical and cellular level." Hengst was not part of the research team.
John R. Horner of the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University, said the discovery is "a fantastic specimen," but probably is not unique. Other researchers might find similarly preserved soft tissues if they split open the bones in their collections, said Horner, a co-author of the paper.
Most museums, he said, prefer to keep their specimens intact.
Schweitzer said that after removing the minerals from the specimen, the remaining tissues were soft and transparent and could be manipulated with instruments.
The bone matrix was stretchy and flexible, she said. Also, there were long structures like blood vessels. What appeared to be individual cells were visible.
She did not know if they were blood cells. "They are little round cells," Schweitzer said.
She likened the process to placing a chicken bone in vinegar. The minerals will dissolve, leaving the soft tissues.
Monday, March 21, 2005
***Dread & Jay's One Liners***
We're already on the Raft.
It's been days since we last seen
Hide, nor hair, nor feathered fiend,
Takers and rapers, the animals beneath.
Rolling up, rolling down,
I follow the Furies,
I drift this Ocean round.
Don't know quite when we left.
Don't know quite what comes.
Just know I can no longer handle
The creaking sound of my thumbs.
I had said to my friends, thor, heron and daryl
Back in Lima, in the hotel,
In the months of planning this hell:
We're already on the Raft
We've left already and things have gone sour
We've lost track of the world,
Lost years in an hour.
They laugh and tell me I’m crazy.
It will only take work, it’s not for the lazy.
But no, I tell them,
We're not here at all you see.
We're lost on that horizonless deep,
Far gone, far said, unfound, debris.
Where's the compass? I ask these men lying down.
Where's the sun? Where’s a cloud?
When was the last time
We left Night to the West,
Turned to brightening East,
And opened our eyes with the Day?
No when no where no time no thing.
I have only your friendly faces,
Skin drawn grins tight and smiling from your teeth.
I have only these sharks I pull thrashing from the deep.
What legends do we follow?
What god struck us thus?
Through what sea monster's maw
Have we been thrust?
We feed on it.
It feeds on us.
Question the sardines on the shelf.
Long rings trail after my hand,
That hangs weakly over the edge.
I know it follows.
It knows I know.
I’ll cut my skin and invite it in.
Come finally, come flow, come free
Take some part of this,
Take some part of me.
We’re already on the Raft.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Moscow, Russia, Mar. 17 (UPI) -- A solar-sail spacecraft is undergoing pre-flight testing, Russian media reported Thursday.
The unmanned spacecraft with eight triangular sail blades, each 16.5 yards long, is to be launched in April aboard a Volna rocket. The launch will occur from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea, Lidia Avdeeva, spokeswoman for the Lavochkin production and science association, told the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency.
Scientists will study the possibility of using a solar sail as a traction system and as a way to control the spacecraft during its orbit flight, she said.
"Technical solutions used in the probe can be a basis for future interplanetary expeditions," she said.
The launch of the spacecraft, called Cosmos 1, was planned for March but was postponed because of "the sheer volume of preparatory work," Avdeeva said earlier this year.
The spacecraft was built under a contract with the U.S. Planetary Society.
An attempt in 2001 to test a spacecraft with two sail blades failed because the craft failed to deploy from its booster rocket.
I first came across the concept of the solar sail in one of my favorite books:
The Mote in God's Eye
by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Sleepybomb of TheWreckRoom (see links) has done me the superlative honor of recording a song using "It's Wednesday" as the lyrics. Well done Sleepy!
Orient yourself to 'the wall' and go download it!
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Andy Rooney's Tips for Handling Telemarketers: Three Little Words That Work !!
(1)The three little words are: "Hold On, Please..." Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt. Then when you eventually hear the phone company's "beep-beep-beep" tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task. These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.
(2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end? This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone. This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a "real" sales person to call back and get someone at home. What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer !!!
(3) Junk Mail Help:When you get "ads" enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these "ads" with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away. When you get those "pre-approved" letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope. Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 37 cents postage "IF" and when they receive them back. It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes. (I plan on doing this faithfully for the rest of my life. -Helskel)
One of Andy Rooney's (60 minutes) ideas. Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back! If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 37 cents. The banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to OVERWHELM them. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it...Twice! Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea! If enough people follow these tips, it will work ---- I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
and we know what that means
no ifs, buts or in-betweens
I want you to hurry over
hurry warm the car
hurry warmth, where you are
I want you to come
without a second’s delay
as soon as you can,
to see me today
I want you to be near me,
on me, beside me,
underneath the moon
Don’t knock or holler,
just enter the room
Switch and sway, oh this way
I want you here
with me my dear
I want your eyes
on mine as I look
I want your lips
on mine as I cook
When you want it
Dinner will be ready
Do you like spaghetti?
If the streets are wet
it’s for the better
I don’t mind if this rain keeps up
They’ll just get wetter
Turn left at Center
make it quick
I miss you so,
We are awash in prophets today.
Being a prophet is horrible - I mean a real prophet. You have to tell people they are going to be hurt or killed if they keep doing what most of them really want to do anyway. You are hated and normally killed - just as the two prophets of Revelations.
So think seriously before you say, like Isaiah, her I am, send me. If you really knew you might try and weasel out like Jonah, but that never works either.
How do I know - I´m one myself.
My job is to show that the prophecy of the coming invasion and occupation of the United States by Chinese and Russian forces is contained in the song American Pie.
We are already seeing the chorus come true, "drove my chevy to the levy but the levy was dry," where one meaning of "levy" is the gas pump lever (it also means a military conscription to repel and invading army).
But, as in nearly all prophets - no one listens and thinks I am crazy. Most prophets have some bizarre thing to attract attention to their message, like wearing an ox yoke around their neck, or laying on their side for 300 days, or carrying their crusty shorts on a pole. Mine is, the hidden meaning in American Pie.
(excerpt cut from the random words of a random soul in Bedlam)
Monday, March 07, 2005
here i sit. i can't think of anything funny right now. i decided
that what i wrote to your blog was hi-larious. i'm all petered out.
i am a bit tiddly after drinking a few beers. that must be the
national pastime here. that and cricket. it doesn't beat baseball
but it's a pretty good game all the same. here is the story of me and
woke up quick, at about noon, just thought that i had to be in compton
soon. i gotta get drunk before the day begins, before my mamma starts
bitchin', about my friends.
i went to europe with some friends. we cruised around and saw some
some neat stuff. i ate the best indian food i've ever had in a town
called bath in england. the menu was in indian so we just pointed and
the proceeded to eat. it was marvelous. at some point we ended up in
edinburgh which is where i met channelle. i bet you didn't know that
swearing is ok on network tv here. they just said fuck. it's great.
more beer. i remember how we got there. train. also, my friend
chris and i were debating where to go next after london, edinburgh or
york. he wanted to go to york and i, edinburgh. we flipped a coin
and i won. i didn't like her when we first met, and i really didn't
like her friend. she was very quiet when i met her and i thought she
was stuck up. she didn't like me either. she thought that i was just
a loud stupid yankee. joke's on her i guess. i first decided that i
liked her when i asked her where she was going and she said a
bookstore. my dreamgirl. she decided she liked me when she busted me
and my friend corey belting out aretha's RESPECT. a match made in
heaven, or somewhere. she went to london and i went to glasgow. that
town (glasgow) is crap as far as i am concerned. like one big project
full of scots. belle & sebastian are one of the best bands ever
though. they are from glasgow, so i guess there is one good thing.
their first album is the best. we discovered that we would be in
ireland at the same time and we decided to meet up. the meeting was
good. the first night we were together i had some nasty lung infection
and found that the more i smoked, the better it felt. i smoked a lot.
we slept together in a single bed in the boy free zone of the hostel.
no clothes came off but i spent a lot of time in the bathroom
coughing up little wriggling things. we made out too. i guess if you
think about it. she's pretty gross. i was hacking up some nasty shit
and she was totally kissing me. uggh. her friend met up with us the
next day and we rented a car and drove around ireland. i drove the
car a bit and even managed to crash it into a wall. surprise
surprise. i must be the worst driver ever. i crash everything.
there is a saying that i've just learned. passion fingers. because
everything you touch, you fuck. the point that i realised that i
loved her was when we got out to look at the wreckage. she gave me a
kiss and smiled and said, "Don't do it again." she was smiling.
after our irish adventure we flew together (minus the friend. she had
flown out a little earlier.) to london. she missed her connection to
australia. she swears that she didn't hear the directions the
stewardess gave to the passengers to make the flight. i think she is
full of shit. i heard the directions quite clearly and failed to tell
her. for my efforts, i was rewarded with an airline paid for hotel
room and an extra night with a totally hot chick. i win. she flew
out the next day and i got to call and explain to her mother, who i
had obviously never met or spoken to, that i was the reason why her
beloved daughter was not going to be home when expected. yay me, yet
again. i'm always makin' friends with parents. i guess that's as
much as i have to say about that. we had many adventures with US
immigration and Australian immigration. channelle made sure to say no
when the US asked her if she was ever a prostitute or had ever dealt
drugs and i don't have TB in case anyone was wondering. we have been
married for four years now and the only reason for that i can think of
is that i must be seriously hot. i know that i have huge balls
because i keep ripping the crotch out of my underwear.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Thursday, March 03, 2005
F5 still brings me nothing! Ooohh, my skin is beginning to crawl. Should I go pull the fire alarm? Should I dial 9-11 and tell them to send the SWAT cause I can't refresh drudge or slashdot? What should I do now? Am I gonna be forced to 'interact' with my coworkers now? What am I going to say to them? How will I know what they're feeling without IMood, emoticons, or Messenger status?
Am I even still human? Well, at least I can type this email to nowhere into the Draft folder of my Outlook. That's like the ticking clock in the puppy's basket......hmmmm yeah.
Ok, I'm still virtual. It's all gonna be ok. I'm sure there's Internet access at home still. I'll be able to outlive my physical boundaries there! If only I can hold out...
Ugh! Still no access. I can't send my losing chessmail to Cheese! He probably thinks some tragic accident has pinned me under a steel girder or that Al Quida has singled me and my blog out for a 500-year payback hit at the West. I won't go down quietly Cheese! I can take it! They won't make me talk! I've watched 24. I know every torture method in the books. I'm ready, cause I know Jack Bauer is gonna save me. He'll at least go poke his head in the server room. Don't worry Cheese, I'm ok! Cheese! Hear my telepathic IRC-like thought transmissions, close those annoying pop-ups coming from my Id, and notice the message warning flashing in your eyes. "Cheese, Cheese... HEAR ME, I am ok... the few minutes delay of my email does not portend my death! Cheese! Cheese!"
I don't know if he heard me. Oh my God... the darkness is decreasing. My computer monitor tunnel vision is beginning to dissipate! I'm starting to notice the world outside of the screen. I'm so afraid. What if I get hurt? What if I have to experience life for real, and make real decisions without respawn, how can I make it without spell check? It's getting cold... so cold. Does the HVAC system of the building need the Internet to run? Is it getting stuffy in here? OMG... WTF... I can't breathe!... and my mind, my mind is having to think!!! Help me! Must get to employee kitchen... must reach TV remote... stop self ordering collection of thoughts and reflection... someone start babbling bullshit! Someone start screaming out Spam email subject lines! Scream out Penile Disfunction solutions! Tell me what the University of Phoenix has to offer! Ask me to take a survey... something... anything! Someone do something mindless before it's too late! Please someone, WASTE MY TIME!!!
Thank God! An email from IT... the priests have consulted the oracle... an answer is coming:
"We are diligently working on the matter and will have it resolved soon.
Thank you for your patience."
PATIENCE!? What is that? I don't know what that word means!
And I can't just google it can I??? ahhhhhhhhhh!
Wait. Another email has come in.
WE ARE SAVED!
Oh thank you God. Thank you for the returning the internet's bounty to us.
Thank you for the return of this 1000 mile deep ocean of triviality we lovingly refer to as INTERWEB.
Phew! that was close.
I almost had a cow.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
"What's increasingly clear is that the hunting and butchering of non-human primates is associated with the transmission of retroviruses to humans," says Nathan Wolfe, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, US, who led the study.
I mean damn!