Τετάρτη, 21 Ιανουαρίου 2015

Our Favorite Penguin Pictures: Fuzzy Chicks, Expert Divers, More

Picture of a gentoo penguin colony on Danco Island

Admiring the View

Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic
A colony of gentoo penguins perch on a rocky cliff on Danco Island, Antarctica.
In honor of Penguin Awareness Day, we decided to dive into the National Geographic photo archive to look at the bird with the iconic tuxedo coat and characteristic waddle. (See more penguin pictures.)
All 17 species of penguins, which range in size from the 3.3-pound (1.5 kilogram) little blue penguin to the 88-pound (40 kilogram) emperor penguin, live in the Southern Hemisphere.
Flightless and comically awkward on land, they spend the majority of their time in the water, and their bodies are streamlined for swimming.
Keep clicking to see our favorite penguin pictures.
—Text by Anna Lukacs, photo edit by Sherry L. Brukbacher
Published January 20, 2015
Picture of 2 Macaroni penguins in the grass

Penguin Pair

Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic
A pair of macaroni penguins nestle in the grass on South Georgia Island.
Eighteenth-century British explorers thought the bird's yellow crest feathers resembled the flamboyant "macaroni" hat that was popular at the time.
With nine million breeding pairs, macaroni penguins are the most populous of the penguin species. (Also see "Emperor Penguins Counted From Space—A First.")
Published January 20, 2015
Picture of a king penguin's face

Ready for Its Close-Up

Photograph by Tom Murphy, National Geographic
The vivid colors of a king penguin on South Georgia Island (map) are evident in this tight shot.
King penguins are often confused with emperor penguins. Both are tall birds, but emperors are the largest of all penguins—an average bird stands some 45 inches (114 centimeters) tall.
The distinct, bright orange pattern on their head and chest distinguishes the king penguins; they also live further north than their Antarctic counterparts.
Published January 20, 2015
Picture of king penguins on the beach at St. Andrews Bay on South Georgia Island

Royal Huddle

Photograph by Michael Melford, National Geographic
A colony of king penguins mingle on the beach at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia Island.
Although their preferred habitat is warmer than that of emperor penguins, king penguins have four layers of feathers and huddle together for warmth. (Read more about king penguins in National Geographic Magazine.)
Published January 20, 2015

Picture of Bill Curtsinger with a group of Chinstrap penguins

Walk Like a Penguin

Photograph by Bill Curtsinger, National Geographic
Photographer Bill Curtsinger waddles alongside a group of chinstrap penguins in Antarctica.
Chinstrap penguins are related to Adélie and gentoo penguins, which are part of a group commonly known as brush-tailed penguins. The chinstrap is the only one with a distinctive, all-white face. (Read about the evolution of penguin species.)
Published January 20, 2015
Picture of a Gentoo penguin entangled in fishing net


Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic
gentoo penguin lies entangled in a fishing net on a Falkland Islands (map)beach in 2011.
Net fishing is just one threat facing penguin populations—a decline in krill, their main food source, is also causing their numbers to decline.
Published January 20, 2015

HDUFO The Aliens,

Aliens What the Governments are hiding from us

Old School Windsurfing: When the Boards Were Small and the Sails Were Bright

But it wasn't restricted to the Pacific Islands. Shacks Beach in Puerto Rico, now known as one of the best windsurfing spots in the world, drew enthusiasts like Serge Griessman as early as 1984.

Pair Scale Dawn Wall - Most Difficult Rock Climb Ever

Two US free climbers reached the top of an iconic rock formation in Yosemite National Park on Wednesday, after spending nearly three weeks inching up a sheer 2,950-foot-high cliff face.
Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson began their record-breaking climb up the Dawn Wall of El Capitan, a massive rock face seen by millions of tourists every year, in late December.

Photos: Dawn Wall and Other Climbs on Edge of (Im)Possibility

The daring pair have been documenting the climb -- in which they use only their hands and feet, albeit attached with ropes to catch them if they fall -- on social media, followed by two photographers.
With no muscles in our fingers or toes, how come humans are able to climb every mountain? Or, climb some of them anyway!
They have slept suspended in bivouac-style tents attached to the rock, which towers above Yosemite Valley and is some three times as big as France's Eiffel Tower and even bigger than world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
"This is not an effort to conquer. It's about realizing a dream," Jorgeson tweeted on Tuesday, ahead of the final push.

Photos: The World's 'Eight-Thousander' Mountains

They pair -- 36-year-old Caldwell and 30-year-old Jorgeson -- finally scaled the last few hundred feet to stand atop the granite monolith by mid-afternoon Wednesday, live TV pictures showed.
Caldwell's wife and Jorgeson's girlfriend hugged them as they were sprayed with champagne, local media reported.

Hackers Don't Need Wi-Fi to Steal Your Data

The researchers are tracing leaks of electromagnetic radiation that are byproducts of various electronic components of computer hardware, including computer processors and capacitors.

Some of the signals are created when you type at the keyboard and can be picked up with the right kind of electronic eavesdropping equipment.
In their recent study, the Georgia Tech researchers developed a way to measure the strength of the emissions and offer ways for hardware and software designers to plug those electronic holes.
So far, these kinds of leaks are not overly exploited by hackers.
“If you are comparing this to Internet attacks, it is less of a problem,” said Alenka Zajic, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“But they are very hard to detect. With any sort of Internet attack, you will find the attacker. With this one you just need to be close by and there’s no way to know who took your data.”

Cool Jobs: Hacker

Zajic and her colleagues say they were able to pick up keystroke information from laptops using just an AM radio and a cellphone. “You could probably hide it under the desk,” Zajic said. “It’s just a matter of motivation.”
These side-channel emissions can also be measured from hidden antennas in a briefcase, while acoustic emissions from the device’s electronic capacitors, can be picked up by tiny microphones.

Fossils Suggest Color Vision Is 300 Million Years Old'


Fossilized rod and cone cells — the kinds that help people see — have been discovered for the first time, researchers say.
Is a camera just a human eye by another name? Trace takes a look at what each of these complex imaging devices can and can't achieve.
The finding reveals that such eye cells have existed for at least 300 million years, and that the ancient fish they were discovered in likely saw in color, according to the study's scientists.
Human vision depends on pigments that absorb light. These pigments lie inside cells known as rods and cones. Cones are sensitive to color and also help perceive fine detail and rapid changes. Rods are more sensitive to light than cones, but are not sensitive to color, and are responsible for peripheral and night vision. Both rods and cones are found in a layer of tissue in the back of the eye known as the retina. [Vision Quiz: What Can Animals See?]
Myllokunmingia may be one of the earliest known creatures with a backbone, and this creature may have possessed a rudimentary cameralike eye, which suggests vision dates back at least 520 million years. However, much remains unknown about the evolution of vision, since the soft tissue of the eye usually decays rapidly after death.

Animal Superpower -- The Eyes Have It: Photos

To learn more about the evolution of vision, scientists analyzed an exceptionally well-preserved 300-million-year-old fossil specimen of a fish called Acanthodes bridgei. The fossil was excavated from Kansas and is kept at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. The fish, which reached up to about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long, is the last known common ancestor of modern jawed fishes, including fishes with bony skeletons, such as barracudas, and cartilage skeletons, such as sharks.
The researchers discovered the first record of fossilized rod cells and cone cells in this fish.
"Rods and cones are not usually preserved, because these soft tissues are more fragile," said lead study author Gengo Tanaka, a paleontologist at Kumamoto University in Japan.
The scientists also found granules in the fossil that, based on the similarity of their chemistry, size and shape to particles found in modern fish eyes, are made of eumelanin, a pigment that absorbs light and helps animals see.
A. bridgei is thought to have lived in shallow waters, through which most of the colors visible to humans from sunlight may have been also visible to the fish. As such, color vision could have proved invaluable for the fish — for instance, helping it spot predators and food.
By analyzing fossilized vertebrate eyes like this specimen, "we can reconstruct what colors extinct animals — example, dinosaurs — could see," Tanaka told Live Science.
The scientists detailed their findings online today (Dec. 23) in the journal Nature Communications.
More from LiveScience:
Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Article originally appeared on LiveScience.

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Winners

\A motorboat-sized beast that was at the top of its food chain 170 million years ago is Scotland's first known native marine reptile.
The formidable ocean predator, described in the latest issue of the Scottish Journal of Geology, might have munched on dinosaurs and sharks, since both also lived at or around what is now the Isle of Skye. The predator was an ichthyosaur, meaning an extinct marine reptile that had a pointy head, four flippers and a vertical tail. Together, these features made such animals look like sinister dolphins.
A group of paleontologists working in Scotland studied the remains of the newly discovered ichthyosaur, named Dearcmhara shawcrossi. Dearcmhara --[/i ]pronounced jark vara -- is Scottish Gaelic for "marine lizard." The species is one of just a handful ever to have been given a Gaelic name.

Photos: Sea Monsters Real and Imagined

Sea monsters are real! See the coolest (and most terrifying) creatures in the sea.
"Believe it or not, this is the first distinctly Scottish marine reptile species that has ever been described, and our paper is the first paper on ichthyosaurs from Scotland," project leader Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences told Discovery News.
Remains of the animal were found at the Isle of Skye's Bearreraig Bay, where amateur collector Brian Shawcross found them. Instead of keeping or selling them, which often happens, Shawcross donated the specimens to the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. This allowed researchers to study them, determine their significance and piece together what this animal looked like in the flesh.
"It would have been roughly 14 feet long or so, and probably would have fed on fish and marine invertebrates," Brusatte said.
Much of Skye was under water 170 million years ago. Skye was joined to the rest of the U.K. then, and was part of a large island positioned between land masses that gradually drifted apart and became Europe and North America.
Sharks in the region during the marine reptile's lifetime were generally smaller and more primitive than today's sharks, so it's possible that Dearcmhara ate them.
As for dinos, Brusatte said, "Dinosaurs did live in other parts of Scotland at the same general time as this ichthyosaur was living in the water. We know this from other rare fossils from Skye -- bones, teeth and footprints of very different type of dinosaurs, including big long-necked sauropods and carnivorous theropods."

Huge Tooth Proves Jurassic Seas Were Crazy Dangerous

If any waded or fell into the shallow, warm seas where Dearcmharalived, they likely would have been dinner for the stealthy ichthyosaur.
Nick Fraser of National Museums Scotland is excited by the discovery, and what it means for his country.
"Scotland is well noted for its geology and geologists, including perhaps the most famous of all, James Hutton (often dubbed the Father of Modern Geology, although he lived from 1726 to 1797)," Fraser told Discovery News. "However, it is not widely noted in the public realm for its fossils, which is unfortunate, as it boasts some incredibly important localities and specimens."
He explained that remains for prehistoric fishes and very early reptiles from the Triassic have been found in Scotland.
"Admittedly, there are not the huge rock exposures in Scotland that permit the excavation of spectacular death-beds of dinosaurs as you might find in the American West," Fraser said. "Yet, even some of the fragmentary remains that we do find are often of great scientific importance, and that is certainly the case with the Skye Jurassic fossils."
Fraser said that the remains represent a time period, the Middle Jurassic, which is rather poorly known worldwide in the fossil record. Evidence, however, from surrounding periods suggests that animal life then, in the seas and on land, was incredibly rich and diverse.
"Skye now seems set to play something of a starring role in shedding light on this window in time," Fraser said.
Both he and Brusatte also have a message for amateur fossil collectors in Scotland.
"If you find fossil vertebrate specimens in Scotland, those of us in the scientific community would love to work with you," Brusatte said. "If you work with us and donate your fossils to a museum, you might also get a new species named after you!"

Supernova Mystery Found at the Bottom of the Sea

One of the least likely places you might think astronomers would learn about ancient supernovae is at the bottom of the ocean, but in new research scientists have done just that.
Through the careful analysis of ocean sediment, tiny particles that originated from deep space have settled on the seabed, locking the chemical secrets to supernova processes that would have otherwise remained a mystery.
“Small amounts of debris from these distant explosions fall on the earth as it travels through the galaxy,” said lead researcher Anton Wallner, of the Australian National University. “We’ve analyzed galactic dust from the last 25 million years that has settled on the ocean and found there is much less of the heavy elements such as plutonium and uranium than we expected.”
Supernovae are powerful explosions triggered when massive stars reach the ends of their lives. During these powerful events, many elements are forged, including elements that are essential for life to thrive — such as iron, potassium and iodine.
However, as pointed out by an Australian National University press release, even heavier elements like lead, gold and radioactive elements like uranium and plutonium can be created. But it appears that the formation processes for the heaviest elements are at odds with current astrophysical theory.
Wallner and his team studied samples of sediment from the bottom of a stable area at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. But when measuring the quantities of plutonium-244, a radioisotope that is produced by supernovae, they found something strange in their results — there was 100 time less plutonium-244 than predicted.
Plutonium-244 has a half-life of 81 million years, making it an excellent indicator of the number of supernovae that have exploded nearby in recent galactic history. “So any plutonium-244 that we find on earth must have been created in explosive events that have occurred more recently, in the last few hundred million years,” said Wallner.
But the fact that there is less recent deposition of the heaviest of elements, despite the fact that we know supernovae have erupted nearby, suggests a different formation mechanism may be responsible for plutonium-244 and elements like it.
“It seems that these heaviest elements may not be formed in standard supernovae after all,” concludes Wallner. “It may require rarer and more explosive events such as the merging of two neutron stars to make them.”
This research has been published in Nature Communications.