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The Caribbean Monk Seal is Now Extinct

Caribbean monk seal becomes extinct - Yahoo! News

HONOLULU - Federal officials have confirmed what biologists have long thought: The Caribbean monk seal has gone the way of the dodo.

Humans hunting the docile creatures for research, food and blubber left the population unsustainable, say biologists who warn that Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seals could be the next to go.

The last confirmed sighting of a Caribbean monk seal was in 1952 between Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service confirmed Friday that the species is extinct.

June 05, 2008

Doctor encourages bathing your cockhead in mild acid to prevent HIV

Rubbing estrogen on penis-tip prevents HIV transmission? - Boing Boing

Dr Andrew Pask from the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne analysed the tissue samples from 12 foreskins and made the discovery.

“This suggested that oestrogen could induce a thickening of the keratin layer of the foreskin epidermis in the same way as it acts in the vagina,” said Dr Pask.

“Keratin on our skin acts a barrier to viral infection. We hope to be able to enhance this protection with the use of a naturally occurring, weak oestrogen,” said Professor Roger Short of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences who lead the research.

To confirm its effect, topical oestrogen was applied to the human foreskin for a two week trial. This resulted in a rapid and substantial increase in keratin thickness.

June 03, 2008

Warren Ellis on colonizing Mars

Warren Ellis -- Bending Mars

Is putting humans on Mars important? Yes. Humans need land to live on, and, in a dynamic environment, they need land to move to. Closed systems are bad because they remove options. A single planet is a closed system. And the thing about land is, as a history teacher of mine used to say, they don’t make it anymore.

Put aside the grim meathook future of our coming environmental doom for a moment. What if something drops on us? What if some natural freak event like a sequence of volcanic incidents drops us into faux-nuclear winter? We’ve come close to that before, in the 1880’s. What if something no-one ever thought of happens to make human life no longer viable on this planet? Do we just shrug and say fuckit?

I believe that exploration is necessary to the human spirit. But even if you don’t share that particular delusion, I think most people would agree that any kind of extinction is bad. Except maybe for dogs.

Mars is the best local option for setting up a colony and, eventually, a second life for humanity. It’s a bit of a crap option: no magnetic field to speak of, cold as hell, and currently no guarantees of usable water. But Venus is a shithole, Mercury’s a suicide trip and the Jovian system is a radiation trap. Forget everything you heard about asteroid habitats, it’s bullshit. Right now, it’s Mars or an extrasolar planet, and an exoplanet is going to stay out of our reach, barring a dramatic breakthrough in propulsion engineering, for at least fifty years.

June 02, 2008

Liquid mirror telescopes see into deep space with the power of awesome

Liquid-mirror telescopes are a reality at last - space - 02 June 2008 - New Scientist Space

Why waste good money on a fiendishly expensive glass mirror for a huge telescope, when you can have a cheaper, flawless mirror simply by spinning a pool of mercury?

The idea of a liquid mirror is an old one, and some experimental liquid-mirror telescopes have been built. But the potential of the concept for astronomy is only now reaching fruition. The world's first dedicated astronomical observatory with a liquid-mirror telescope at a top-class observing site is expected to come online in 2009.

May 31, 2008

Ice discovered on Mars

Mars lander discovers ice, scientists say

(05-31) 15:26 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Elated scientists probing the arctic surface of Mars with their newly-landed Phoenix spacecraft said Saturday they are convinced they have found a bright and shiny layer of real ice only inches beneath the Martian soil and directly under the body of the lander itself.

"It's the consensus of all of us that we have found ice," said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson as he talked to reporters in a conference call only six days after Phoenix landed safely from Earth. "It's shiny and smooth -- it's absolutely astounding!"

But Smith did add a note of scientific caution: "It's not impossible that it's something else," he conceded, "but our leading interpretation is ice. We are looking at an extended table of ice."

May 30, 2008

Girls just as good as boys at math

Wonderland: Girls and boys equally good at maths

Boys are not innately better at maths than girls, and any difference in test scores is due to nurture rather than nature, researchers suggested today.

According to new research published in the journal Science, the "gender gap" in maths, long perceived to exist between girls and boys, disappears in societies that treat both sexes equally. When girls have equal access to education and other opportunities they do just as well as boys in maths tests.