Monday, April 16, 2007

160)Miscellaneous scientific information about the world and universe in which we live, move and have our being.

From the back page of the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, Mon April 16th 2007.



The drifting pole

"The north magnetic pole is no longer a resident of Canada. It has drifted across the Canadian Arctic and is now angling toward Siberia," reports Canadian Geographic magazine. "Over the past century, the pole migrated an average of about 10 kilometres per year, says Larry Newitt, head of the Geomagnetic Laboratory at Natural Resource Canada in Ottawa. Since the 1970s, this speed has increased to about 50 kilometres per year. . . . If the north magnetic pole continues at its current rate, it could reach Siberia by 2056."

Boo to lawns?

"We sunbathe, picnic, and play sports on them," says Dwell magazine. "Our bare feet seem inexorably drawn to them. And for many of us, they're the first thing we see when we step out the front door: lawns. It's no surprise they cover 40 million acres (16 million hectares) in the U.S., or that we spend more caring for them than the entire GDP of Costa Rica. Yet despite their attendant pleasures, these patches of viridian splendor leave much to be desired. Sucking up close to 240 gallons of water per person each day of the growing season, our beloved lawns are gradually depleting our natural water sources."

Viva dirt

"Forget the spring cleaning," writes John Elliott in The Sunday Times of London. "A study has found evidence that bacteria common in soil and dirt could improve people's spirits. According to the research, the action of Mycobacterium vaccae (M vaccae) on the brain is similar to that of some commonly used antidepressants. The bacterium, which is related to the microbe that causes tuberculosis, appears to work by stimulating the body's immune system. This, in turn, prompts certain cells in the brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone associated with feelings of well-being. 'These studies help us to understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health,' said Dr. Chris Lowry, a neuroscientist at Bristol University who carried out the research. 'They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all spend more time playing in the dirt.' "

Passing for human

"He recognizes himself in the mirror, plays hide-and-seek and breaks into fits of giggles when tickled," writes Kate Connolly in The London Observer. "He is also our closest evolutionary cousin. A group of world-leading primatologists argue that this is proof enough that Hiasl, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, deserves to be treated like a human. In a test case in Austria, campaigners are seeking to ditch the 'species barrier' and have taken Hiasl's case to court. If Hiasl is granted human status -- and the rights that go with it -- it will signal a victory for other primate species and unleash a wave of similar cases."

Green flower pots

Gardeners are famous for recycling, writes Virginia Smith in The Philadelphia Inquirer. "But there's one thing that every gardener buys that routinely gets tossed in the trash and buried in a landfill: the plastic flower pots used to grow seedlings. They're everywhere, especially at this time of year. They don't decompose . . .What's a conscientious gardener to do? The answer may lie in some surprising places: in chicken feathers and cow manure and, to a lesser extent, corn, soybeans and rice. Scientists and farmers are investigating whether these substances can be moulded into biodegradable pots to replace the plastic variety, which constitutes a $500-million (U.S.) industry in North America."

A trick of the light

"In 1999, Lene Hau and her colleagues at Harvard University slowed light traveling at 186,282 miles a second to bicycle speed (38 miles an hour)," writes J.R. Minkel in Scientific American. "A few years later the team stopped a beam of light completely. This year, Hau's team added another quantum trick: turning light into matter and then back into light again. The matter was a pair of ultra-cold atomic gases called Bose-Einstein condensates."


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4.
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3