Daily Archives: December 15, 2007

New Book: Fins into Limbs (Evolution, Development)

Fins into Limbs: Evolution, Development, and Transformation by Brian K. Hall, Ed., University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2007. 459 pp.Reptile and mammal limbs and bird wings are all modifications of the original tetrapod limb that, in turn, arose from the fins of earlier fish. That original transition was complex with some parts of the original fin being incorporated in the new limb, others not. Subsequent modification of the tetrapod limb has also, obviously, been diverse, including the functional reversal that involved the forelimbs of the forms ancestral to whales, seals, etc. turning “back” into fins. Continue reading New Book: Fins into Limbs (Evolution, Development)

Google is building its own Wikipedia

Google is building its own version of communally-constructed online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which consistently ranks among the most visited websites in the world.The Internet search powerhouse is inviting chosen people to test a free service dubbed “knol,” to indicate a unit of knowledge, vice president of engineering Udi Manber said Friday in a posting at Google’s website.”Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it,” Manber wrote.”There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it.”While Wikipedia lets visitors make changes to its online pages, trusting that people with accurate information will correct errors and misleading entries, Google is inviting folks to author their own articles.Pictures of authors will be displayed on their knol web pages, according to a sample provided by Google.”We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content,” Manber wrote.”Books have authors’ names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors; but somehow the Web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted.”Google hopes knols will be written on all conceivable topics and says it has no plans to edit or endorse content. Editorial responsibility will rest with authors, whose reputations will be at stake, according to Manber.

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Science News Tidbits

Chemical Find Shuts Down 2 LA Reservoirs

Two reservoirs that supply drinking water to parts of the nation’s second-largest city have been shut down and will be drained because a rare sunlight-fueled chemical reaction tainted them with a cancer-causing chemical, utility officials said Friday.The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plans to drain 600 million gallons from the open-air reservoirs early next year, a process that will leave them out of action for three to four months amid drought conditions, department spokesman Joseph Ramallo said in a statement.The two reservoirs supply only about one-third of 1 percent of the city’s annual water consumption, or about the amount the entire city consumes in a day, Ramallo said. The closures haven’t left the city short of water because demand decreases in the fall and winter, he said.The chemical, bromate, is dangerous only after long-term consumption, officials stressed.

Continue reading Science News Tidbits

A depressing top ten list

i-8e1009562a2a44e1151447c8a6b0125e-top_ten_pol.jpgPlanet Hazard produces Google Maps with major polluters. This allows you to look up your own location if you are in the US, by county, state, etc., and to access the data in various ways.

Learn about the unknown hazards around you – the toxins you may be breathing. PlanetHazard uses information from the EPA to map over 86,000 companies throughout the United States that emit hazardous air pollutants.