For decades, scientists assumed that the relatively small pelvic bones found in whales were simple remnants of their land-dwelling past, “useless vestiges” that served no real purpose, akin to the human appendix or tailbone.A new study, co-authored by Erik Otárola-Castillo, a fellow in David Pilbeam’s paleoanthropology lab in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, suggests that the bones, in fact, have a very specific purpose — particularly when it comes to making baby whales and baby dolphins. The research is described in a recent paper in Evolution.In cetacean species, promiscuous mating behavior is associated with the intensity of male competition for females. Due to this high demand, female cetaceans can become choosier and mate only with males they perceive to be of higher quality. At least one female whale, for example, has been observed to surface “belly-up” in an attempt to resist undesirable males.Working with Jim Dines and Matthew Dean of the University of Southern California, Otárola-Castillo discovered that males have circumvented the problem by evolving longer penises relative to body size. Also, the male pelvic bone anchors the muscles that control movement of the penis.Otárola-Castillo also quantified and compared the pelvic shape of several sister-species that had widely divergent levels of promiscuity and found the divergence in pelvis shape was extremely high. The more promiscuous the mating system, the less simple and more convoluted the shape of the pelvis.“At the less promiscuous end of the spectrum, the pelves look quite straight, possessing little curvature,” he said. “On the other hand, the pelvis bones of the more promiscuous species are much more curved and contorted.”As to the reason for such divergence between closest relatives, Otárola-Castillo thinks that sexual organ control might be particularly important.“In some species, females may mate with multiple males in a relatively short time,” he said. “I know of at least one occasion when a female whale was observed mating with more than one male at the same time. Only one male will win this competition by inseminating the female and ensuring a chance to pass his genes along. This degree of competition creates a sort of sexual-organ arms race.”A more complex pelvic bone may offer many more locations for anchoring muscles controlling the penis. Males could have evolved a high degree of control in an effort to win out over their competition — and thus pass on their genes to the next generation.The pelvic bones of whales are “one of the classic examples of a vestigial structure,” said Otárola-Castillo. “But what we found was that the shapes of these bones are highly associated with the mating systems of these whales and dolphins — species that are more promiscuous have more-complex-shaped pelves.”To determine whether whale pelves still have a function, Otárola-Castillo and his colleagues created detailed computerized models of the pelvic bones of more than 100 species, and used custom-designed software to examine their shapes in three-dimensional space.Otárola-Castillo had developed the software with colleagues at Iowa State University as part of a project comparing scallop shells. He quickly realized that it could be applied to other fields.“I started my academic career as an archaeologist,” Otárola-Castillo said. “I’ve always thought about the possibilities of comparing the shape of prehistoric arrowheads and projectile points in their true three-dimensional form. I had no idea how to conduct such comparisons until I took a course in biology and statistics when I was a master’s student in archaeology. There the professor showed how biologists were starting to statistically compare shapes in 3-D. I was sold. This was one of the reasons I moved over to evolutionary biology and statistics. I realized the same analytical tools and technology used to compare biological shapes could be used to compare the shapes of archaeological artifacts.”The new research opens the door to using digital tools to compare natural shapes in powerful ways, Otárola-Castillo said.“The advent of computing and computerized biology and development of statistical tools in particular is really helping us learn new things. This technology is allowing us to start asking a number of new questions that we couldn’t have imagined until fairly recently.”
BOXING’S BIGGEST DRAW —Manny Pacquiao knocks down Shane Mosley in the third round of their WBO World Welterweight Title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Saturday, May 7. The photo was taken with a tilt-shift focus lens. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher) He fought poverty, beat Shane Mosley, and shared a dais with Paris Hilton. The president of the Philippines called to chat, then it was off with his massive entourage for a concert at a neighboring casino.All in a night’s work for the little fighter who can.“People know I’m trying to do my best,” Pacquiao said. “I think they’re satisfied.”Hard not to be when the most entertaining fighter since Mike Tyson worked as hard inside the ring as he did later in a concert that stretched into the wee hours of the morning. It wasn’t Pacquiao’s fault that Mosley spent most of Saturday night trying to find a spot between the ropes where Pacquiao couldn’t hit him rather than try to put up a good fight.Hilton certainly seemed happy about it all. The faux celebrity joined Pacquiao and his wife at the post-fight news conference to give her analysis of the fight, and the verdict was, well, favorable.“It was a very amazing fight,” she said.Others who might know boxing a bit better would probably disagree, but there wasn’t a lot Pacquiao could do about it. He floored Mosley with a left hook in the third round and spent the rest of the night chasing after him despite a cramp in his leg that made his opponent even harder to catch.Much like with Tyson in his prime, though, Pacquiao mostly got a pass for his choice of opponent. Though the 16,412 fans at the sold-out MGM Grand arena booed in the later rounds, they were booing Mosley, not Pacquiao, for a fight that dragged on for 12 full rounds before coming to a predictable end.Indeed, most fans—Hilton included—seemed to be happy just to see Pacquiao in action. That’s the lure of the Filipino phenom, who continues to be the biggest draw in the sport even while being fed a questionable diet of opponents in recent fights.Mosley was the latest, a fighter who looked shot in his bout last year with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and looked even worse against Pacquiao. Once a great fighter, Mosley at the age of 39 lacks the reflexes to compete anymore even if he refuses to recognize it.“I don’t think he tried to win the fight, he just tried to survive,” said Freddie Roach, who trains Pacquiao. “When you get to that point in boxing it’s time to call it a day.”Promoter Bob Arum tried to defend his pick of Mosley as Pacquiao’s latest victim, saying Pacquiao is so good that no fighter can look good against him. That’s bogus, of course, because there are certainly other fighters out there who could not only give Pacquiao a challenge but could conceivably beat him.No. 1 at the top of that list, as everyone in boxing knows, is Mayweather, who seems as reluctant to sign for a fight with Pacquiao as Mosley was to actually fight him. But the clamor for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight has died down with Mayweather inactive and facing legal problems that could land him in jail, and that fight seems even longer away than it was before.Next up for Pacquiao will likely be a third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, who fought to a disputed draw with Pacquiao in 2004 and then lost a split decision to him two years later. But, while that fight is somewhat intriguing, Marquez is basically a lightweight while Pacquiao has grown into a full-blown welterweight who would have a big size advantage.Pacquaio will make another $20 million regardless of who is in the ring with him. That’s big money for any fighter, even if a fight with Mayweather could conceivably double that purse.Before that happens, though, Pacquiao has stuff to do back home. The biggest sports hero the Philippines has had is also a congressman trying to build a hospital in his province, and the yellow gloves he wore in the fight were, he said, a symbol of the fight to end poverty in his native country.He may or may not go down as one of the greatest fighters ever. That will be for boxing historians to decide when his career is finally over.But as his excellent weekend in Las Vegas showed, he may be the hardest working fighter ever.(Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at [email protected] or twitter.com/timdahlberg.) by Tim DahlbergAssociated Press Writer LAS VEGAS (AP)—Manny Pacquiao was always going to get his $20 million. That was part of the deal that lured him to this gambling city, where wealthy whales and B-list celebrities gathered ringside to watch him beat up yet another pretender to his crown.On this night his opponent was a reluctant combatant, there seemingly only to get his own big payday. But Pacquiao wasn’t about to let that ruin his plans for a big evening on the Las Vegas Strip.
Needless to say, the scientific institutions are thrilled that their favorite candidate won. Editorials in both Nature and Science showed little objectivity about politics in the last few weeks. Part of this is due to Obama’s promises to fund science heavily, including $150 billion to fight global warming with alternative energy (see Nature News). Another reason for their support is that Joe Biden referred to intelligent design as “this malarkey” (09/01/2008) while both John McCain and Sarah Palin have made statements, albeit weak and non-specific, in favor of giving students opportunities to hear alternatives to evolution. The Nature News article also took note of the narrow passage of California’s Proposition 8, which put into the state constitution the statement “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” What this has to do with science, or how this will “affect the nation’s research” (the stated purpose of the article) was not explained. The stem-cell initiative in Michigan also passed 52-48% (see 10/15/2008). According to New Scientist, Obama has promised to lift the ban on embryonic stem cell research anyway, whether or not it is necessary. A recent article on Live Science indicated that current techniques can “reliably reprogram adult cells into iPS [induced pluripotent stem cells] rapidly and can forego the need to rely on mammalian embryos to generate pluripotent stem cells.” Most initiatives to restrict abortion failed, such as California’s Proposition 4 which would have required parental notification for abortions on minors (defeated narrowly) and Colorado’s Amendment 48 which would have defined someone a ”person” at the moment of conception (defeated overwhelmingly). Obama is a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and has never voted for any abortion restrictions, including partial-birth abortion. Late Republican ads criticized him for supporting infanticide by voting three times against bills that would provide health care to babies surviving botched abortions. Backed by a Democratic Congress, it is likely Obama will sign a Freedom of Choice Act that will remove all restrictions on abortion, including partial-birth abortion. This will sweep away decades of pro-life efforts to protect the unborn. If Obama is able to put liberal judges on the Supreme Court and other federal courts, Roe vs Wade is likely to stand, and maybe even expand, for decades to come. Many decisions hostile to intelligent design, or supportive of unlimited abortion and gay marriage, have come from the courts. Republicans in the past have tended to rubber-stamp liberal judges appointed by Democrats (such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg), while Democrats have tended to “Bork” conservative nominees (as Joe Biden did to Robert Bork) or delay their hearings, sometimes for years. If this happens under a Democrat-controlled Congress and Presidency, the courts could turn even more liberal than they are now. Most education reforms are debated at the state level in school boards and legislatures. Opponents of intelligent design will have strong presidential and congressional advocates in Washington, though, along with the backing of empowered scientific institutions. It may become increasingly difficult for Darwin-doubters to get a hearing. Emboldened scientific institutions and academies may also “expel” Darwin-doubters with increased fervor and less opposition (see the movie Expelled, now on DVD, and Slaughter of the Dissidents). The popular vote for Obama was not overwhelming, though, and many may have voted for the novelty of seeing a person of color elected President for the first time. Some may have been so disgusted with Washington-as-usual, or with the war in Iraq, or were fearful of the economic collapse, to grasp at anyone who could promise “change we can believe in.” Their votes for Obama may not translate into support for unlimited abortion, gay marriage, socialized health care, embryonic stem cell research or expensive global warming programs that could cripple the economy. Often the realities of the world temper a candidate’s promises once in office. Disillusionment among the electorate often quickly sets in after the euphoria of victory has passed. Obama promised to be the president also of the large minority who voted for McCain/Palin. He promised to listen to them. Good intentions or not, he may have no choice but to move toward the center on some issues. As a newcomer he cannot afford to ignore the advice of military chiefs and seasoned Republican advisers. The economic crisis may force him to back off on some of the expensive programs he promised. An international crisis, as his running mate Joe Biden predicted, could change everything. How this all plays out remains to be seen.This is a nation where citizens are king. Those of you who want a culture of life and a nation of free speech in science will have to speak out and work harder than ever before. Many times in history have been far worse than this. It is never a time for despair in God’s kingdom. Take a breather now that this emotional roller-coaster ride is over. Take a walk in the woods. Calm your soul with the beauty of creation. The birds, animals and plants still know their Maker and do His bidding. The Earth still orbits in its privileged life-giving zone in space. Your molecular machines, genetic code, organs and senses still are fearfully and wonderfully made. Take confidence in the fact that the facts of nature are impervious to lies and distortions. The evidence will still be there. We still have free speech. CEH is not going away. You can still gather evidence, think, reason, debate and exercise your citizen’s right to have an influence.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
A still from The Tunnel by South Africanfilmmaker Jenna Bass. The film is adrama seen through the eyes of a10-year-old girl set during Zimbabwe’sMatabeleland uprisings of the 1980s. A scene from the road-trip movie N’Dar byDyana Gaye from Senegal. Pumziby by Kenyan Wanuri Kahiu is apost-apocalyptic science fiction film setduring a “water war” in Africa. Africa First is the brainchild of NewYork-based film producer Kisha Cameron.RELATED ARTICLES • SA-set sci-fi satire huge hit in US• Top honours for SA movie• Film body eyes Garden Route• Bang Bang Club lives on in film• African film takes centre stageMEDIA CONTACTS • Africa [email protected] Garson (New York) A groundbreaking US initiative to develop and showcase African film talent is set to put the continent’s filmmakers on the fast track to success.Africa First, the brainchild of New York-based film producer Kisha Cameron, is a project run in partnership with big time United States movie distributors, Focus Features, to “find new voices, new talent on the continent – people who have something to say,” says Cameron.Focus Features’ movies include A Serious Man, Coraline, 9, Brokeback Mountain, Burn after Reading, Milk, Atonement and Catch a Fire, to name a few.The Africa First initiative runs a competition each year, choosing five winning scripts from across Africa and then helping the filmmakers develop their scripts into short films. Winners get US$10 000 (R76 700) to help make their films, a weekend in New York to workshop them first with a panel of advisors and the opportunity to get their films showcased at all the major American independent film festivals. The advisors are a group of top African filmmakers who have also worked in North America and the United Kingdom.Cameron, who has just returned from the Sundance Festival in Utah, is upbeat about the reception the Africa First 2008 winning films – which went into production last year – have just received there.Three of the five movies, all directed by women and also showcased at a screening in Manhattan late last year, went on to Sundance. The three – The Tunnel by South African Jenna Bass, Pumzi (Breath) by Wanuri Kahiu of Kenya, and N’Dar (Saint Louis Blues) by Dyana Gaye from Senegal – were all well-received at Sundance, says Cameron.The Tunnel is a moving, lyrical drama seen through the eyes of an imaginative 10-year-old girl on the traumas she experiences at the hands of President Robert Mugabe’s ruthless Fifth Brigade during the Matabeleland uprisings of the 1980s.Pumzi is an original, post-apocalyptic science fiction story set during a “water war” in Africa, now a desert, about a young woman’s secret struggle to grow a plant.N’Dar is a quirky and jolly road trip musical set in Dakar, a retro tribute to French and American musicals of the 1950s and 1960s.“The screenings went very well,” says Cameron. “There was a great deal of interest – and surprise,” she adds. “When people see the diverse range of films – a drama, a musical and a sci-fi – each very well executed, fresh and surprising, they say ‘Wow, this wasn’t what I was expecting from short films from Africa’.”The range of genres traversed by the movies “explodes the myth that African cinema comprises one genre”, said June Givanni, one of the advisors on the board, at the Manhattan screening. “People think they know the continent, they think they know what African cinema is.”Speaking from South Africa, Bass, a Zimbabwean, said Africa First gave her the structure to get The Tunnel made, the opportunity to work with filmmakers and the “confidence to fight for what was an often-difficult project”.Bass, who is pursuing several other film projects, said she felt “incredibly fortunate” to be a part of a group of African filmmakers. This “has given me hope for the cinematic future of our continent”, she adds. Her trips to New York and Utah gave her an introduction into “the way the US industry operates,” she says. She also met people who expressed interest in her work and who are following its progress.Kahiu is currently turning her short film, Pumzi , into a feature.When Africa First put out their first call for scripts in June 2008 “it was like water being soaked in the soil,” says Cameron. “We were saturated with applications. Since then it’s been tremendously exciting.”Cameron says the relationships cultivated between Focus Features and African filmmakers cut both ways. While the filmmakers retain the overall rights to their films, Focus Features gets the North American rights as well as “first look” should they be turned into features. “We are trying to make it a mutually beneficial project. It’s not just about ‘us helping you’. We’re not saying, ‘Here’s the money. Go with God.’ We really want to develop a relationship. We want to work with you.”The films are good enough to get where they need to on their own, says Cameron. “What we are doing is putting the icing on the cake. The talent is there. We are providing a platform to showcase it,” she says.Cameron has her own film company, Completion Films, and helped produce Spike Lee’s Bamboozled as well as Sometimes in April , an HBO film on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. She is currently working on two films: The Fighting Prince , directed by Norman Maake, about South African boxer Arthur Mayisela, and Area Boys , a Nigerian film written by leading playwright Oladipo Agboluaje.The Africa First advisors together have a wealth of experience on making film and television productions on the continent.Givanni programmed the Toronto International Film Festival’s Planet Africa series for four years. Another advisor, Clarence Hamilton, is production head at the South African National Film and Video Foundation. Hamilton was head writer of the first season of children’s TV series Takalani Sesame. He was co-creator of the HIV drama Gaz’lam and head writer for Soul Buddyz . Other advisors include Mahen Bonetti, the director of the African Film Festival; journalist and documentary filmmaker Jihan El-Tahiri; Pedro Pimenta, manager of training programmes throughout South Africa; and Keith Shiri, director of the Africa at the Pictures film festival in the UK.The five winning Africa First filmmakers from 2009 are: Stephen Abbott (South Africa), Matt Bishanga (Uganda), Daouda Coulibaly (Mali), Matthew Jankes (also South Africa) and Rungano Nyoni (Zambia). Their films are now being made and should be ready for screening later this year. The round for this year’s submissions will open in May or June.
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frederic lardinois Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Later today, Digg will open up its rumored read/write API. Up until now, developers could only read data from Digg. With the new API, web and desktop apps will also be able to contribute data to Digg. This will allow developers to write desktop and web applications that enable users to, for example, interact with Digg without having to go to the site. Digg will use the OAuth protocol to authorize applications. According to Forbes’ Taylor Buley, however, the writable API will not allow users to submit stories remotely.Buley spoke to Digg’s lead API developer Jeff Hodsdon, who acknowledged that there are still a few obstacles that stand in the way of remote submissions. The two main roadblocks are duplicate detection and captchas. Digg currently makes users jump through a few hoops before they can submit a story. This ensures that the submission pipeline on Digg remains relatively free of duplicate entries and spam. Implementing these safety measures in the API will be difficult.Competing with the Real-Time WebAs our own Sarah Perez pointed out earlier this year, a full read/write API would allow Digg to compete with the real-time Web. To do this, Digg doesn’t really need to enable users to submit stories remotely. What Digg really needs is a way to get more users to vote for stories more often.Currently, it can take hours – and sometimes days – before a story appears on Digg, while services like Tweetmeme can pick up trends and breaking news stories on Twitter within minutes. To pick up speed, Digg needs to get its voting mechanism into more places – and the new API would allow the company to do just that. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#news#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
The cost escalation in the CWG-related projects was attributed to acute shortage of time by the Organising Committee but an IAS officer has told the CBI that there was “deliberate negligence” on part of top OC bosses despite knowing the schedule of the sporting event.IAS officer and former Chief Operating Officer of the OC, Vijay Kumar Gautam, arrayed as a witness by the CBI in the CWG Timing Scoring and Results (TSR) scam, said there was “no hurry” on part of the top OC bosses, including its chairman Suresh Kalmadi, a key accused in the case, to get things moving.”On being asked, it is stated that when I joined OC on September 7, 2007, the technology functional area was non- functional. The technical staff was yet to be appointed. There was no person handling technology functional area. Needless to say that no work related to technology was even contemplated till that time, though the OC CWG 2010 had come into being in February 2005.”In fact there was no hurry on the part of the top bosses in OC to get the things moving. There was deliberate negligence. It is stated the technology functional area is one of the core functional areas requiring highly skilled experts to handle the matters related to it,” Gautam told the CBI.His statement has been annexed with the CBI’s charge sheet, filed in a Delhi court on May 20 against Kalmadi, former secretary general of OC Lalit Bhanot and others for their alleged involvement in the TSR scam in which contract was illegally awarded to a Swiss firm.advertisementBhanot and others are accused of allegedly awarding Rs 141 crore contract to the Swiss firm ‘Omega’ to install TSR system for the games at an exorbitant cost, causing a loss of over Rs 90 crore to the exchequer.Gautam told the CBI that despite being the COO of OC, he got to know about the issuance of expression of interest for procuring TSR only after advertisement in this regard was published in newspapers on March 23, 2009.He said that he was annoyed with the manner in which the EOI was issued and sent strong disagreement note to V K Verma, Director General of OC and one of the accused in the TSR scam, who assured him that he would look into the matter.Regarding award of TSR contract to Swiss firm, Gautam said there was a concerted and planned move to zero-in on and select a particular company Swiss Timing for the contract.”It is stated that my stand in the TSR matter was absolutely clear throughout and I was dead against all restrictive practices and manipulations favouring any particular firm. The entire manipulations were being down by Kalmadi, V K Verma, Lalit Bhanot and their associates to favour Swiss Timing,” he said.-With PTI inputs
MADRID — The key to Liverpool’s Champions League success this year may just be in the hands of Alisson Becker.Liverpool paid a record $85 million fee for a goalkeeper to sign Alisson from Roma at the end of last season after predecessor Loris Karius made several costly mistakes in last year’s final.The Brazilian has so far proven his worth going into Saturday’s final against Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.“I can’t wait,” Alisson said. “Once we finished the Premier League, there were 20 days to prepare the final. I’m looking forward to playing this big game. It’s maybe the biggest game in my life.”Last year, Liverpool faced Real Madrid in the final in Kiev but fell short of winning their sixth European Cup title, losing 3-1. Besides an injury to forward Mohamed Salah which took Liverpool’s main attacking threat out of the game in the first half, it was Karius who made the mistakes that cost the team.Karius first had an embarrassing give-away that led to Karim Benzema’s opening goal, and he then failed to hold on to a long-range shot from Gareth Bale that sealed the Spanish club’s victory.The 26-year-old Alisson, a starter for Brazil’s national team since 2016, fixed Liverpool’s goalkeeping problems in his first season with the English club, swatting away the uncertainty that surrounded Karius’ performances.Alisson finished the Premier League season with 21 clean sheets, earning the Golden Glove award in his first attempt. No other goalkeeper had kept as many clean sheets in the English league since Manchester United’s Edwin van der Sar in the 2008-09 season.But it was in the Champions League that Alisson really made the difference for Liverpool, producing a stoppage-time save against Napoli in the final group game to avoid early elimination.After having already made great saves during the match, Alisson came up with a huge final stop to secure the 1-0 home win that sent the team to the round of 16, coming off the line and spreading himself to block a close-range shot from Arkadiusz Milik.“I have no clue how he made that save,” Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp said at the time. “Thank God we have him. If I’d known how good he was, I’d have paid double.”Alisson played solidly in the victories against former team Roma in the last 16 and against Porto in the quarterfinals. He then was crucial again in the semifinals against Barcelona, keeping a clean sheet in the second leg at home to help the team to overcome a 3-0 loss in the first match.There is, however, one more match to go.By: Tales Azzoni, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shares
APTN National NewsA devastating fire tore through dozens of homes in Iqaluit last night leaving scores of residents homeless.Making an already bad situation worse, -50 Celsius wind chill made fighting the fire even more difficult.APTN National News Iqaluit reporter Wayne Rivers reports from the scene.