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Astronomy Picture of the Day


Friday, March 28, 2008

No bait! Fish may respond to sound

A six-month-old sea bass swims to the water surface in a tank at the Marine Biological Laboratory, in Wood's Hole, Mass., Tuesday, March 25, 2008. The fish live and grow in the tank at the laboratory until they are large enough to participate in an experiment where their behavior may be influenced by a sound broadcast into the water.  (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP Photo: A six-month-old sea bass swims to the water surface in a tank at the Marine...

BOSTON - Call them Pavlov's fish: Scientists are testing a plan to train fish to catch themselves by swimming into a net when they hear a tone that signals feeding time.

If it works, the system could eventually allow black sea bass to be released into the open ocean, where they would grow to market size, then swim into an underwater cage to be harvested when they hear the signal.

What's next, teaching them to coat themselves in batter and hop inside a fryer?

"It sounds crazy, but it's real," said Simon Miner, a research assistant at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood's Hole, which received a $270,000 grant for the project from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Miner said the specially trained fish could someday be used to bolster the depleted black sea bass stock. Farmed fish might become better acclimated to the wild if they can be called back for food every few days.

The bigger goal is to defray the costs of fish farming, an increasingly important source of the world's seafood. If fish can be trained to return to the farmer after feeding in the open ocean for several days, farms could save money on feed and reduce the amount of fish waste released in concentrated areas.

The key question for fish farmers: How many fish will actually return, and how many will be lost to predators or simply swim away?

Randy MacMillan, president of the National Aquaculture Association, said fish farmers won't be easily convinced to adopt open-ocean ranching.

"The commercial side is going to be skeptical," said MacMillan, who works on a trout farm in Idaho.

The Massachusetts project is one of several experiments funded by the federal government last year as part of aquaculture research.

"We're looking for innovations that will actually make a difference for coastal communities and the environment," said Michael Rubino, manager of NOAA Aquaculture. "It fits in both."

Previous experiments have used sound to train a fish to feed — similar to what Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov did in his famous dogs that salivated at the sound of a bell, expecting food.

In Japan, scientists have used sound to keep newly released farmed fish in certain areas, where they could be caught in traditional ways.

But no one has ever tried to get fish to leave and return to an enclosure where they can be scooped up.

The project began last summer using 6,500 black sea bass, a stout, bottom-dwelling fish that lives between Florida and Cape Cod and in the winter is generally not found north of New Jersey. The species grows up to 3 pounds and 20 inches long and has a thick, white flesh that can be filleted for broiling or cut into nuggets for frying.

Miner said the first objective was to see if the fish could truly be trained. He got his answer after keeping the fish in a circular tank, then sounding a tone before he dropped food in an enclosed "feeding zone" within the tank that the fish could enter only through a small opening.

Researchers played the tone for 20 seconds, three times a day, for about two weeks. Afterward, whenever the tone sounded, "you have remote-control fish," Miner said.

"You hit that button, and they go into that area, and they wait patiently," he said.

Miner is now trying to figure out how long the fish remember to associate the tone with food. He feeds the fish outside the feeding zone without a tone for a few days and then tests if they will still head for the feeding area when the tone sounds again.

Some fish forgot after five days. Others remembered as long as 10. Miner said the strength of memory seems tied to how long the fish are trained.

By May, researchers hope to bring about 5,000 black sea bass to a feeding station called an "AquaDome," a structure about 33 feet across and 16 feet high that will be anchored to the ocean floor in Buzzards Bay, 45 miles southeast of Boston.

The sea bass will be fed in the dome after a tone sounds. After researchers feel they've been sufficiently trained, they will be freed from the dome. A day or two later, scientists will sound the tone again and see how many bass return. They'll do the experiment again around summer's end.

The tone will have a range of about 100 meters in every direction. Miner said sea bass are a territorial fish that prefer a rocky bottom, like in Buzzards Bay, where they can forage for food. He doesn't think they will stray too far from the dome.

MacMillan is not convinced the fish won't just swim away.

"My experience with fish is they will wander far and wide," he said.

MacMillan said getting farmed fish to supplement their diets with ocean feeding is intriguing, but farmed fish now get a steady diet that produces reliable growth.

He also expects large numbers of released fish to be lost to predators.

Scott Lindell, the project leader, said losing fish is a concern. But the savings of using the trained fish and the AquaDome is potentially huge: Even if only half the fish come back after reaching market size, the operation would be more profitable than current methods. The dome, for instance, is 10 times cheaper than a standard aquaculture sea cage.

Miner said real answers won't start coming until the fish hit Buzzards Bay this spring. "There's probably 18,000 ways for it to go wrong and only one way to go right."

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Lala Shower

Lala cleans up well.

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Fine for back-to-front thong man

A 58-year-old man who fed pigeons wearing only a skimpy thong which was back to front has been fined £150.
David Batchelor
Batchelor had gone out in the thong to feed the pigeons a pie

Neighbours spotted David Batchelor in his street in Perth in the underwear which left his genitals partly exposed.

Perth Sheriff Court heard that children walking home from school had been passing by at the time.

His lawyer said that Batchelor had been drunk and there was no sexual element to the way he had behaved. He admitted committing a breach of the peace.

When officers had turned up to investigate they found Batchelor still partially dressed and with his flimsy thong on the wrong way round.

At the court previously, Fiscal Depute Hannah Kennedy said: "The witnesses watched as the accused walked between the common close entrance and the pavement. He went behind some bushes outside his house.

The witnesses were alarmed by his actions and concerned for the children who had passed
Hannah Kennedy
Fiscal Depute

"There were a large number of schoolchildren passing his home address at this stage.

"He returned to his flat then reappeared still wearing this item.

"It was still exposing his genitalia. The witnesses were alarmed by his actions and concerned for the children who had passed."

Batchelor claimed he had not seen anyone around, but then confessed he looked at everyone as they went past and the "schoolgirls were bonnie."

Mrs Kennedy added: "Asked why he did it, he replied 'I don't know. I was just feeding the birds and if I was wanting to do that I would just go down town and get a whore'."

Sheriff Michael Fletcher said: "The alcohol seems to be at the root of the problem and nothing much can be done about that, given his attitude towards it."

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Toddler rescued after 27 hours in well

AGRA, India (CNN) -- A two-year-old girl was rescued Wednesday after spending 27 hours trapped inside a narrow well outside the Indian capital of New Delhi.


Two-year-old Vandana was trapped in a well near New Delhi for more than a day.

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Video footage from the scene showed a man emerge carrying the girl, named Vandana.

She fell 45 feet into the uncovered well while playing Tuesday night in a village near Agra, a northern Indian city outside New Delhi.

The girl was taken by ambulance to a hospital to be checked out, according to District Magistrate Mukesh Kumar Meshram.

"The girl is normal, according to the doctors, and there is a possibility (she is) suffering from dehydration," Meshram said.

CNN's partner network CNN-IBN reported Vandana's parents were by her side at the hospital.

Her mother was kept away from the well because of rescuers feared she would become emotional and upset the child, but her father was constantly talking to her to keep her conscious, authorities said.

India's army was called in to help, and rescuers dug a parallel well to tunnel into where Vandana was trapped.

Officials said the girl frequently asked for fruits and sweets, which was sent to her with the help of a rope.

Oxygen was also pumped inside the well through tubes to prevent any suffocation, CNN-IBN reported.

It was the sixth time a child had fallen into an open pit or uncovered well in India over the past two years.

On January 30, rescuers successfully retrieved a six-year-old boy from a 40-foot well in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

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Future Human: Males Closing in on Life Expectancy Gap

We all know that women outlive men. But there's some good news for XYs: since the 1970s, the gender gap in life expectancy has shrunk. Now, a study released Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explains a major reason why. Surprisingly, the answer has little to do with eating fewer Big Macs. Since the 1970s, more baby boys are surviving birth in the first place.

The study authors analyzed more than 250 years of mortality data from 15 developed countries. Turns out that in 1751, males were only 10 percent more likely to die at birth than females. But that disadvantage increased until its peak of 30 percent around 1970. Since then, remarkably, it has declined.

Why? First off, males draw the short straw at the start. One reason is that baby boys' immune systems can’t thwart infections as well as girls’ can. Boys are also more likely to be born premature and suffer early respiratory distress. Their bigger body and head sizes also make them harder to deliver.

Before germ theory took hold in the 1870s, the authors explain, the leading cause of infant death was infectious diseases. As sterile practices and other medical improvements gained traction in the twentieth century, the leading cause of death shifted to childbirth complications. But since the 1970s more babies have been born by C-section, and neonatal ICUs are on the rise. These medical advances are disproportionately helping the more vulnerable males.

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Inventor of Egg McMuffin has died

The man who invented the popular egg sandwich as a way to introduce breakfast to McDonald's passed away at age 89.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Herb Peterson, who invented the ubiquitous Egg McMuffin as a way to introduce breakfast to McDonald's restaurants, has died, a Southern California McDonald's official said Wednesday. He was 89.

Peterson died peacefully Tuesday at his Santa Barbara home, said Monte Fraker, vice president of operations for McDonald's restaurants in that city.

He began his career with McDonald's Corp (MCD, Fortune 500). as vice president of the company's advertising firm, D'Arcy Advertising, in Chicago. He wrote McDonald's first national advertising slogan, "Where Quality Starts Fresh Every Day."

Peterson eventually became a franchisee and was currently co-owner and operator of six McDonald's restaurants in Santa Barbara and Goleta, Fraker said.

Peterson came up with idea for the signature McDonald's breakfast item in 1972. He "was very partial to eggs Benedict," Fraker said, and worked on creating something similar.

The egg sandwich consisted of an egg that had been formed in a Teflon circle with the yolk broken, topped with a slice of cheese and grilled Canadian bacon. It was served open-faced on a toasted and buttered English muffin.

The Egg McMuffin made its debut at a restaurant in Santa Barbara that Peterson co-owned with his son, David Peterson.

Fraker said that, although semiretired, Peterson still visited all six of his stores in the Santa Barbara area until last year when his health began to deteriorate.

"He would talk to the customers, visit with the employees. He loved McDonald's," Fraker said.

Fraker, who said he worked with Peterson for 30 years, said "he was amazing as far as giving back to the community."

"He embraced the community and the community embraced him," Fraker said. "We loved the man."

Peterson is survived by his wife, son and three daughters.

A public memorial service will be held April 23 at All Saints by the Sea church in Montecito. To top of page

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Brazilian SandGirl (+40000 views) (Sand sculpture or real woman?)

Right.. we are now .. making the first steps into YOUTUBE

with some interesting videos of family life.. milano and the backstage for some pictures we share here in flickr...

Add me as your Contact!

MY MOST VIEWED PHOTOGRAPH! - +17980 VIEWS (december 2005) +44436 views (october 2006)
I was walkin' at the Farol da Barra Beach (Bahia Brazil) last august '04 when i saw this sculpture in the sand.. It was really unbelieveble.. The guy that made this is a real Artist!!!!

And I notice.. that this picture is in a lot of Blogs all around the world.. with the discussion about it.. if it is sand or real woman... check it out in Google Blogsearch :

Hey folks!

You can buy t-shirts,hats, caps, bag and printings of my photographs from my Photostream in my On line store at

Click on the banner!

Please check it out.. and help me to keep my passion for photography on..

A new season.. a new light here..

with some interesting videos of family life.. milano and the backstage for some pictures we share here in flickr...

Add me as your Contact!

MY MOST VIEWED PHOTOGRAPH! - +17980 VIEWS (december 2005) +44436 views (october 2006)
I was walkin' at the Farol da Barra Beach (Bahia Brazil) last august '04 when i saw this sculpture in the sand.. It was really unbelieveble.. The guy that made this is a real Artist!!!!

And I notice.. that this picture is in a lot of Blogs all around the world.. with the discussion about it.. if it is sand or real woman... check it out in Google Blogsearch :

Hey folks!

You can buy t-shirts,hats, caps, bag and printings of my photographs from my Photostream in my On line store at

Click on the banner!

Please check it out.. and help me to keep my passion for photography on..

A new season.. a new light here..

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KOIN Exclusive: D.B. Cooper Evidence Unearthed

AMBOY, Wash. - There could be a major break in the biggest crime mystery in Northwest history.The FBI in Seattle is beginning analysis of a long-buried parachute - the same type used by skyjacker D.B. Cooper when he jumped from an Northwest Orient Airlines 727 with a 25 pound money bag containing 200-thousand dollars ransom on Thanksgiving eve 1971.

The children of a Clark County contractor found the parachute buried in a field that their father has recently plowed for a road. The chute is white and conical shaped, dirty and deteriorated. Seattle Agent Larry Carr will clean it and search for a label, which could match the chute to a companion reserve chute left behind by Cooper in the plane.

Carr, who's now in charge of the Cooper case, says the parachute was found near the center of the original jump zone identified by searchers in November 1971, between the towns of Ariel and Amboy, Washington. In 1980, a family on a picnic found 58-hundred dollars of the loot on a Columbia River beach, near Vancouver. How it got there is another mystery. Some scientists believed the money bag traveled down the Washougal River, which is upstream from the beach, miles from where this parachute was recently found.

The Clark County property owner says the plow blade unearthed something. He didn't notice it at first, but later his children, playing there, saw some cloth sticking above the earth. They pulled on it, and more cloth came out. They kept pulling, until the chute's shroud lines appeared. They cut them and notified the FBI in Seattle. Part of the chute remains buried in the field and will need to be dug out with heavy equipment.

Agent Carr showed KOIN News 6 other evidence items in his possession, including Cooper's clip-on tie and clasp, from which FBI forensics experts were able to extract the hijacker's DNA. The agency is releasing this information to the public, hoping it will produce more information about the hijacking case.

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Life Imitates 'Caddyshack': Gophers Triumph Over Man

Bill Murray must have winced when he heard that mankind's latest salvo in the valiant war against gopher-dom ended in a massive explosion that sparked a prairie fire outside of Calgary, Alberta, over the weekend. Even though there was a ban on fires in the area, two Canadian men went into a field with a device called the Rodenator.

The Rodenator dumps a mixture of propane and oxygen into gopher holes, then lights them up like a Fourth of July fireworks display, causing an underground shock wave, killing the gophers and collapsing their tunnels.

Problem was, after a couple of successful blasts, the two Canucks overfilled one of the holes, and the flames jumped out and onto the dry grass, starting a fire that threatened several homes and caused $200,000 in damage.

Question raised: "Caddyshack" aside, is the the Rodenator a smart way to deal with gophers? Let us know.

Check out a video of the Rodenator in action after the jump.

Think that's dumb? Get a load of these:

Want to see something easy on the eyes? How about some gorgeous bedroom pin-ups?

A Wired-In Guy Getting Set for a Big Date

We once dropped our hotel room key down the crack into an elevator shaft. We once dropped our car keys into a sewer grate. Heck, as long as we're confessing, we once dropped the Thanksgiving turkey on the floor. So, we relate to this peculiar story.

This is a cautionary tale. It involves a BlackBerry in a toilet, a roommate with a hair dryer, a bowl of uncooked rice and a date who almost got stood up. And it has a happy ending -- sort of.

The author's vital lifeline dries out on a bed of rice after being plucked from a brief but life-threatening dip in the toilet (don't worry; the water was clean).
The author's vital lifeline dries out on a bed of rice after being plucked from a brief but life-threatening dip in the toilet (don't worry; the water was clean). (By Ernesto Londoño -- The Washington Post)

Things started going downhill one Saturday evening after I got home from a bike ride. As I was about to wash my hands, I unclipped my waist bag, onto which I strap my BlackBerry.

That's when I heard the clunk. My BlackBerry was in the toilet. Clean water, thankfully. I pulled it out as quickly as I could and shook it with all my might. The screen looked blurry, fading. I figured it'd be a good idea to pop the battery out.

Then it hit me: I had a date with someone I'd met the night before. It was two hours away. Plans weren't firm. We'd agreed to go to a movie but hadn't determined where or at what time. For a change, this was a date I was kind of excited about. But I'd saved the number only on my BlackBerry.

"Mark!" I hollered. "Do you have a hair dryer?"

My roommate, Mark, does not look like the kind of guy who owns a hair dryer. In fact, some might wonder if he owns a comb. But luckily he came through. I spent a half-hour drying the device from all angles, thinking about how many numbers I'd lose if the gadget were forever comatose.

I sent a friend an instant message from my laptop, sharing my plight. My friend told me to leave it turned off overnight in a bowl of uncooked rice.


Rice, he explained, sucks out moisture. My friend refused to let me use his name in the paper because his federal employer sternly discourages any and all communication with reporters about serious matters such as convalescent BlackBerrys and rice.

I was able to turn it on long enough to retrieve the one number that might save me from offering the lamest and most embarrassing excuse for standing someone up.

After sleeping in a bed of rice, my BlackBerry functioned well Sunday, except for the time function, which froze.

It was flimsy on Monday, fading in and out, but sprang back to life Tuesday, after another night in the rice bowl.

The research I've done thus far suggests it's only a matter of time before it takes its last BlackBerry breath and expires. But the prospect of dishing out $450 for a new one has sustained my faith in the healing qualities of rice.

About that happy ending: We're going out on another date.

-- Ernesto Londoño, staff writer

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EWU student pranks the New York Times

SPOKANE, Wash. - An aspiring filmmaker at Eastern Washington University says he never meant to prank the New York Times when he posted a video online March 16th.

"Pawly P" says he wanted to make a clip that looked like he interrupted a woman's basketball game by playing a popular song from the 1980's.

The prank of drawing attention to the Rick Astley song "Never Gonna Give You Up" is known as Rickrolling-and it happened to be the topic of an article being written by a New York Times reporter last week.

The reporter tells KHQ-TV that her editor drew her attention to the online post, so she contacted Pawly.

The reporter used the apparent prank to inform readers the premise of the stunt-describing how, an Astley impersonator wandered through the gym and, "lip-synched and mugged to the music."

She continued to describe how, "Many older spectators looked, by turns, puzzled or irritated. But the under-30 fans danced and sang," in an article published Monday, March 24th.

The problem-The women's basketball coach says Pawly never interrupted a timeout, the EWU Police Department says they are not aware of Pawly ever using the PA system and Pawly now admits that many of the fans seen dancing were not dancing to the 80's song.

Pawly says the whole thing was shot over several games and admits some of the fan reaction shots weren't in response to Astley, telling us the song played only briefly before one game.

Pawly says it was all clever editing to make a viewer think he had interrupted a timeout in the basketball game.

When questioned about apparently pranking the New York Times on a story about a prank, Pawly failed to see the irony.

"Did you prank the New York Times?" asked KHQ Local News Reporter Anthony Gomes.

Pawly's response: "You could say that, uhhhhhhhh, you could say that."

Pawly says he never meant to mislead the Times reporter and isn't sure what happened when she called last week working on her story.

"I think it's great," he said. "I was able to put it together, make it look real, you know?"

The practice or Rickrolling started online-taking web users who clicked on an internet link to a different site, usually containing the Astley music video. Pawly said he only hopes his video will take the practice to the next level and inspire others to actually interrupt sporting events.

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How to guarantee a girl never leaves you [comic]

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