Archive for August, 2008

Network of corridors to protect the European wildcat

Posted on August 31, 2008. Filed under: Africa, animals, Biological Station of Euskirchen, biology, BUND, Carpathian Mountains, cats, conservation, Doñana Biological Station, domestic cats, Earth, Earthlings, environment, Europe, European wildcat, fauna, Felidae, felines, Felis silvestris silvestris, France, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, League for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germ, nature, North Africa, OEKO-LOG field research, random, Rheinland-Pfalz, science, Spain, Spanish Council for Scientific Research, the Balkans, the E.U., wild animals, wildcats, wildlife, zoology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

An international team of researchers has proposed a network of corridors linking the habitats of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) to help this endangered species survive in its homeland. Read this article for more information.

Felis silvestris silvestris is a shy creature but is a born hunter like other cats . . .


The European wildcat is a native of Europe that has been roaming the forests of the continent long before domestic cats were brought to Europe from North Africa. It looks very similar to the domesticated cat though they are not closely related. Their tails can most easily differentiate the two species: the stockier wildcat has got bushier hair there and more clearly defined dark rings. Mice serve as their main source of food. The German state of Rheinland-Pfalz is home to over half the estimated German wildcat population (between 3000 to 5000). Apart from Germany, the European wildcat survives in the Carpathian Mountains, the Balkans, Spain and France.

German and Spanish researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, the Freie Universität Berlin, the Doñana Biological Station of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, OEKO-LOG field research and the Biological Station in Euskirchen have developed a model to identify the natural habitats of these cats and possible corridors to help isolated populations to mingle. The research was done by fitting radio-transmitters to twelve wildcats.

The wildcat is known to be a shy creature. The team discovered that they try to keep a safe distance from human settlements. Within a radius of one kilometre from human settlements, they were difficult to find. In the case of isolated human dwellings and roads, they try to maintain a safe distance of two hundred metres. This protects it from humans and their dogs and from being killed by motor vehicles and also prevents interbreeding with domesticated cats.

A project called “rescue network wildcat” was started by BUND (the League for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany). Their mission is to develop a network comprising of corridors of some 20,000 kilometres over the coming years – the equivalent of half of the German Federal highway network.

With these efforts, the wildcats are being helped to return to areas which were once the home of their ancestors. Many more projects like this are needed throughout the world for members of the genus Felidae if we don’t want future generations to be left with only domestic cats.

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Lose weight by including mushrooms in your diet

Posted on August 21, 2008. Filed under: beef, calorie intake, champignon, diet, dietary management, dietetics, energy density, fat intake, food, food science, great recipes, high-energy density foods, lean ground beef, low-energy density foods, meat, meat substitutes, mouthwatering dishes, mushroom dishes, mushrooms, news, nutrition, nutritional science, obesity, random, recipes, science, weight loss, white button mushrooms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Researchers taking part in an ongoing study at the John Hopkins Weight Management Centre suggest a new way to fight obesity – increasing the intake of low-energy density foods like mushrooms in place of high-energy foods like lean ground beef.

White button (Champignon) mushrooms . . .


In the research lead by Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, participants were randomly given either mushroom or beef dishes for lunch for four days. The participants switched to dishes containing the other ingredient (beef or mushroom) for the next week.

Energy (calorie) intakes were found to be much higher during meat meals than mushroom meals, a difference that averaged 420 more calories and 30 more fat grams per day over the four-day test period. More importantly, participants found no difference in palatability (meal appeal), appetite, satiation (after meal fullness) and satiety (general fullness). The participants did not compensate for the lower calorie mushroom meal by eating more food later in the day. This means that mushrooms can be used as a palatable and suitable culinary substitute for meat.

A serving of four-five white button mushrooms has 20 calories and no fat, saturated fat or cholesterol but is nutrient-rich. Mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid as well as the antioxidant selenium. Fight obesity by making use of delicious, nutritious mushrooms to control your calorie and fat intake!

Spicy Thai mushroom soup . . .


Great recipes for mouthwatering dishes that use mushrooms can be found on these sites . .

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Will the CherryPal C100 desktop be a success?

Posted on August 17, 2008. Filed under: ASUS Eee Box, ASUS Eee Pc, CherryPal, CherryPal C100 desktop, cloud computing, computers, desktops, internet, Koolu W.E. Appliance, low-cost computing, netbook, nettop, news, notebooks, random, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

CherryPal is about to launch its C100 desktop – which the company claims is “the most affordable, easiest to use and greenest desktop computer available.”

The CherryPal C100 desktop . . .


Here are the technical specifications of the C100:

Processor: Freescale’s MPC5121e mobileGT processor, 800 MIPS (400 MHz) of processing
Memory: 256 MB of DDR2 DRAM
Storage: 4GB NAND Flash-based solid state drive
Wireless connectivity: WiFi 802.11b/g
Ports: Two USB 2.0 ports
One 10/100 Ethernet with RJ-45 jack
One VGA DB-15 display out jack
Headphone level stereo audio out 3.5 mm jack
9vDC 2.5 mm 10 watt AC-DC adapter power supply
Weight: 283.5 g
Dimensions: 3.3 cm x 14.7 cm x 10.7 cm

According to the company, it uses 80 percent fewer components than a traditional PC, and because it has no moving parts, it operates without making a sound and will last 10 years or more. The company also claims that it uses just 2 W of power compared to the average desktop’s 114 W but will perform most of the functions of a normal desktop. The company does not offer a monitor, mouse or keyboard. The C100 comes with 50 GB online storage space and costs 249 USD.

The CherryPal C100 differs from other desktops because it uses the concept of “cloud computing”. To put it in simple terms, only basic applications like the productivity suite, iTunes, a media player and an instant messenger are stored on the device while everything else is on central servers that are maintained, secured and updated by a dedicated team. The user just switches on the device, waits for 20 seconds and accesses everything through a Firefox-based browser. To make full use of the CherryPal, one needs to have a broadband connection. Since everything is maintained on central servers, the user need not worry about things like securing his/her computer from viruses or upgrading his/her software.

Cloud computing is not a new concept. But CherryPal wants to be the first desktop manufacturer to take cloud computing in a big way to the consumer. Will the efforts of the company founded by the German-born technopreneur Max Seybold succeed?

It would be a tough task for CherryPal to achieve success with the C100 desktop in its present form. The C100 has just two USB ports and they would be taken up by the keyboard and the mouse forcing one to use a USB hub to connect other devices. The 4 GB storage space on the device may not be enough. Though the company has promised to include support for as many peripherals as possible in the cloud, it remains to be seen whether they can deliver. And more importantly, the concept of cloud computing itself is not a great idea for a desktop computer. Users would be more comfortable if the applications and data are stored on the device itself instead of having to rely on the cloud for everything.

The C100 is not without competition. There are quite a few manufacturers who are gearing up to launch “nettops” or net-focussed desktops or low-cost desktops and not all of them use cloud computing. The Koolu W.E. Appliance and the ASUS Eee Box are definitely more functional, giving them a big advantage.

However, it is not other nettops that CherryPal should be worried about. “Netbooks“, the term given for low-cost notebook computers or net-focussed notebooks or subnotebooks, are the future of low-cost computing. Netbooks are small notebook computers that perform most of the functions of normal notebooks/laptops but are optimised for internet access, wireless communication and to perform the core-computing functions. They are small, light, energy-efficient, rugged and are becoming very popular around the world. No PC manufacturer wants to be left out of the netbook market as it offers huge volumes. Netbooks are ideal for students and others who want a low-cost, rugged and ultramobile laptop. Women would love them as the average netbook is compact enough to be carried in a small bag.

The ASUS Eee PC 900 . . .


Looks like the CherryPal C100 has a tough job on its hands!

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This cute bird belongs to a new species!

Posted on August 17, 2008. Filed under: Africa, animals, biology, bird watching, birds, Earth, Earthlings, fauna, Gabon, knowledge, nature, new species, news, olive-backed forest robin, ornithology, science, Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus, taxonomy, Uncategorized, zoology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A new bird species has been discovered in the forests of Gabon in Africa. Read this article from the Science Daily for more information about the discovery.

The olive-backed forest robin (Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus) . . .

Image: Science Daily

The bird has been named as the olive-backed forest robin for its distinctive olive back and rump. The average adult is about 11.5 centimetres long and weighs about 18 grams. The birds have a white dot in front of each eye. The male has a bright orange throat and breast, a yellow belly and a black head. The female has the same colours but appears dull when compared to the male.

Though the bird was first observed by scientists from the Smithsonian Institution in 2001 in the south-western part of Gabon, it has been officially recognised as a new species only now after scientists collected more specimens and compared their DNA to those of the other known forest robins.

While we keep hearing of species becoming extinct or getting endangered at an alarming rate, this discovery would definitely bring cheer to the hearts of ornithologists and other nature lovers!

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Don’t miss these celestial fireworks!

Posted on August 7, 2008. Filed under: astronomy, atmosphere, comets, Earth, Earthlings, meteor showers, Moon, news, Perseid meteor shower, Perseids, Perseus constellation, ram pressure, random, science, shooting stars, sky, space, stargazing, Sun, Swift-Tuttle comet | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak on the morning of August 12, 2008.

A Perseid streaking across the sky in St.Polycarpe, Quebec, Canada…

Image: Frederic Hore (from

Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the orbit of a comet. Comets leave behind dust and other particles when they pass by the Sun. When the Earth moves through the orbit of a comet, these particles enter our atmosphere at a very high speed. Since most of them are tiny particles, they vapourise completely on entering the atmosphere due to the ram pressure (pressure exerted on an object as it passes through a fluid medium – can be a liquid or a gas), leaving a trail of light that is visible from the surface of the Earth as a “shooting star”.

This particular meteor shower appears to come from the Perseus constellation and has been named as the Perseid meteor shower. The Perseids occur when our planet passes through the orbit of the Swift-Tuttle comet.

The meteor shower will be quite active from August 8 to August 14, with the peak occurring on the morning of August 12. Once the Moon sets on August 12, one should be able to watch at least a few of these shooting stars in the dark sky before sunrise. The best place would be the countryside, as far away from the city as possible.

Hopefully, the Perseids won’t disappoint Earthlings waiting to catch a glimpse of these beautiful shooting stars! 🙂

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A big step in finding a cure for postpartum depression

Posted on August 1, 2008. Filed under: childbirth, children, depression, maternal health, medical research, medicine, news, postpartum depression, pregnancy, science, women, women's health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Scientists have discovered a mechanism in the brains of mice that would definitely help in finding a much improved method to treat postpartum depression in human mothers. Read this article from the Science Daily for more information.


To put it briefly, the level of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone fluctuates during pregnancy and childbirth, though it was not clear how it affects the behaviour. The researchers found evidence that led them to believe that the hormones affect the mood through the brain’s neurotransmitter system called GABA. They discovered that a receptor subunit of GABA fluctuated in the brains of female mice during and after pregnancy. To test the theory of a possible link between the subunit and the hormones, they used genetically modified mice that lack the gene for that particular subunit. After giving birth, the female mice exhibited behaviour similar to that of human mothers who suffer from depression after childbirth. By administering a drug (THIP – a hypnotic and antinociceptive drug that can restore the functioning of the receptor), the behaviour of the mice showed marked improvement. The scientists concluded that the GABA system’s ability to adapt to the fluctuating hormone levels depended on the proper functioning of the subunit, at least in mice.

About 15-25% of human mothers (especially those who give birth for the first time) are believed to suffer from some form of postpartum depression. In extreme cases, it may also lead to the mother harming her own child. Women’s health is a very complex issue and the health and well-being of mothers is usually neglected during and after childbirth. This discovery would surely help in finding new and better treatments for postpartum depression.

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