A Little Bit of Many Things

A mixed bag of stuff – hope you enjoy it.

INTRODUCTION

Much of this post will be sharing finds from elsewhere, but there will also be some pictures of my own. I will be starting with politics,  moving from there on to transport, then some science and finishing up with some stuff about autism. Other than in this introduction most of the text will be coloured, and links as usual will be in bold and underlined. 

POLITICS

There is a particular reason why I am mixing red and green in this section and priveleging green by having it come first. The Greens have pulled out of a number of seats in the upcoming general election to make Labour’s task easier. These seats include at least one held by a current cabinet minister. I urge Labour to reciprocate by at the very least not fielding a candidate in Brighton Pavilion (the only seat currently held by the Greens), and preferably also by leaving a clear field for them on the Isle of Wight, and in a few other seats that the Greens are particularly targetting. In my own constituency of Northwest Norfolk Labour is the only party with a chance of unseating the Tory, and I will thankfully be able to vote Labour with a smile as they have very sensibly reselected the excellent Jo Rust as their candidate. My first two shares are both about Labour’s plans to deal with tax avoidance. The two pieces in question are:

I conclude this section with a reference to Labour’s manifesto, now in the public domain. I have read the document in full and urge you to do likewise by clicking here. As both an aperitif and a lead-in to the next section of this post I reproduce the transport section:

Labtrans

TRANSPORT

A brief section, containing two important links. The first, from the Campaign for Better Transport is titled “Improving air quality: buses are key to success and details precisely how serious an issue air pollution is in the UK and how buses can help solve this.  The second piece I am sharing in this section comes from livescience.com and has the self-explanatory title “New Battery Could Power Electric Cars 620 Miles on Single Charge“.  Below is a picture of the battery taken from that article.

 

An illustration that shows how the new electric battery is stacked like a ream of paper.

Credit: Fraunhofer IKTS. 

SCIENCE

I have three recent finds to share, all courtesy of the Guardian. The first of these another link in the chain of whale evolution, published under the headline “36m-year-old fossil discovery is missing link in whale evolution, say researchers“. Here is the picture:

Two Mystacodon selenensis individuals diving down to catch eagle rays along the seafloor of a shallow cove off the coast of present-day Peru.

From water creatures we move to ancestors of flying creatures, with this piece titled Dinosaur tail trapped in amber offers insights into feather evolution” again accompanied by an excellent picture, reproduced below:

Having covered water creatures and the ancestors of air creatures we finish with land creatures, and the largest fossilized footprints ever discovered, with a diameter of 1.7 metres. These dinosaur footprints are located near Broome in northwestern Australia, a place I visited in 2006. The largest creatures living there these days are crocodiles which at an absolute peak might grow to a body length of six metres. The article is titled
World’s largest dinosaur footprints discovered in Western Australia” and accompanied by some good pictures, one of which I reproduce below.

The prints indicate enormous animals that were probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip.

The prints indicate enormous animals that were probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip. Photograph: Damian Kelly/University of Queensland/EPA

AUTISM

I have several pieces to share in this section, starting with two from americanbadassadvocates as follows:

My next share is from visualvox and has the self-explanatory title “Done with that autism spectrum “disorder” business

I finish this section with a link to piece from thesilentwaveblog. There is another very recent post from this same blog that will be featuring in the post I shall be producing for my birthday. As a clue I will tell you that due to the particular number it will be I am calling this birthday the “Douglas Adams Birthday”. Today’s link is to a post titled
Asperger’s / autism and microaggression” with the picture reproduced below:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few photographs today, mostly of items going under the hammer at James and Sons next auction (full catalogue available here):

359
Lot 359 – five images.

359-a359-b359-c359-d

1134
Various cigarette card lots, all in the 1100s

1133113211311149118911061191119011961193

DSCN6542
A 2016 £2 coin, commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, the first I had ever handled (taken just before I handed over as part of a bus fare).

 

 

 

 

Lights Out: Asteroid Triggered Freezing Darkness That Killed Dinos

An excellent piece about the extinction of the dinosaurs (except the feathered variety that we now call birds)…

It was the airborne sulfate molecules that led to the years of darkness and cold 66 million years ago after the asteroid slammed into Earth.

Source: Lights Out: Asteroid Triggered Freezing Darkness That Killed Dinos

Feathered dinosaur tail in amber!

A spectacular find as detailed on Why Evolution is True. To comment please visit original.

 

Why Evolution Is True

In a market in Myanmar, the Chinese scientist Xing Lida, shown in the picture below, found a piece of amber about the size of a dried apricot, and it had an inclusion. The seller, thinking the inclusion was a piece of plant, raised the price, for biological items in amber dramatically increase its value. Still, Xing bought the piece at a relatively low price, for the seller didn’t realize that the inclusion was not a plant, but part of a theropod dinosaur! And so it was: part of the theropod’s tail, which was sprinkled with feathers. The specimen turned out to be from the mid-Cretaceous, about 99 million years old. It’s a remarkable piece:

161208121636-dinosaur-amber-2-exlarge-169 The specimen: a bit of theropod dinosaur tail with very clear feathers

161208123535-dinosaur-amber-5-exlarge-169 Ryan McKellar and Xing Lida (discoverer of the specimen) with some amber from the site. Photo from CNN.

That specimen tells us something about the nature and evolution…

View original post 1,035 more words

The Great Zoo of China – Book Review

A review of Matthew Reilly’s latest, “The Great Zoo of China”

INTRODUCTION

Matthew Reilly is one of my favourite contemporary novelists. He writes action adventure stories in which the pace of said action is never in any circumstances below greased lightening. His latest novel, The Great Zoo of China, has all the usual features and a few more besides.

THE GREAT ZOO OF CHINA

Dragon myths are a global phenomenon, and pretty well every where dragons are described the descriptions are very similar. All have four legs and a pair of wings. Although the book describes this as being hexapods it is not necessarily so, since the Malaysian Flying Lizard has four legs and a pair of wings, the latter being supported by an extended ribcage. Other reptiles which have evolved an extended rib cage for structural support purposes are turtles whose carapaces are supported by their ribcages.

The back story is that the reason for dragon myths being global is that dragons really exist, and each myth documents an appearance of a dragon who hatched out from the egg and came to the surface to see if the planet was warm enough for them to survive. Behind even this is the survival of the dragons, winged archosaurs who survived the great extinction at the end of the cretaceous because their nests were protected by being beneath nickel deposits. The Chinese located a nest beneath their second largest nickel deposit, and captured each dragon as they hatched. This gave them 88 dragons. A breeding program using female saltwater crocodiles as incubators for dragon eggs boosted this tally to 232.

The Chinese believed they were ready to unveil their great creation and arranged for a two select groups of important visitors to be shown the zoo. One of these groups was made up of Americans, including the hero the story, Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, an expert on large reptiles. The other consisted of high-ranking politburo officials, who were being shown the hunting area of the zoo.

The dragons were being kept confined by means of electromagnetic shields, so it looked as though they were moving freely, while the humans were supposedly protected by ultrasonic shields that the dragons could not approach closely because of their sensitive hearing.

It turns out that some of the red-bellied black dragons (there are four groups of true dragons and one group of hybrid dragons produced from the crocodile experiment’s early days) have torn out their own ears so that the ultrasonic shields don’t bother them, and that the dragons have worked out how to bring down the inner of two electromagnetic domes, and have decided that this day, when there are two groups of guests is the day to attempt a break out.

Additionally for the human visitors, the Chinese are determined that no word of the disaster can be allowed to spread and that therefore no independent witnesses can be allowed to live.

PICTURES

To conclude this post here are some pictures to give you a better idea of the book:

DSCN7173 DSCN7175

The book is divided into seven sections called "evolutions" - something Reilly frequently does - in Ice Station they are "incursions", while in The Seven Ancient Wonders they are "Missions" etc.
The book is divided into seven sections called “evolutions” – something Reilly frequently does – in Ice Station they are “incursions”, while in The Seven Ancient Wonders they are “Missions” etc.

DSCN7177 DSCN7178 DSCN7179 DSCN7182 DSCN7183 DSCN7184 DSCN7185 DSCN7186 DSCN7241 DSCN7243 DSCN7244 First Evo

This is an excellent story, and although the notion of a species surviving in deep hibernation for 65 million years seems a trifle far fetched there is very little in the back story about the dragons that is actually flat out impossible – a further plus mark as far as I am concerned. If you get an opportunity to read this or indeed anything else with Mr Reilly’s name on the cover make sure you take it!

“Dinosaurs and the Expanding Earth”

A brief review of Stephen Hurrell’s “Dinosaurs and the Expanding Earth” accompanied by a few pictures.

INTRODUCTION

This is a book review, of a book that I have just read which has the title I have used as the title of the post. This is a standalone post with no links or unrelated pictures.

A SMALL BOOK THAT PACKS A GIANT PUNCH

The book that gave it’s title to this post is by Stephen Hurrell and it seeks to provide an explanation for the giant size of the dinosaurs.

The Front Cover
The Front Cover

Hurrell’s theory, argued very persuasively is that the Earth was smaller and hence gravity was less in the distant past. Many different sets of data fit with his argument – including the fact that in every era since the extinction of the dinosaurs the biggest land animals have been progressively smaller. The super-giant land mammals of 35-40 million years ago for example grew much larger than their counterparts today. A graphic illustration of the size difference between the largets dinosaurs and today’s largest land animals is this…

DSCN3939

The illustration of the difference between his theory of earth formation and the standard version (constant size earth) is shown in this graphic…

DSCN3940

I found the book thoroughly fascinating and absorbing and would heartily recommend it to anyone, and conclude this very brief post by passing on another recommendation of a book that I share Mr Hurrell,s opinion of, Robert Bakker’s “The Dinosaur Heresies”…

DSCN3941

England Take The Lead In 2015 Ashes

A bit about England’s magnificent win at Edgbaston, an infographic about an event being staged by Surrey, some quality links and infographics.

INTRODUCTION

I have some links and infographics as well as my main piece. I hope that you will enjoy this post and be encouraged to share it.

A THUMPING VICTORY

England responded to the battering they took at Lord’s in the best possible way, by storming to a three-day victory at Edgbaston to restore their lead in the series. Australia won by 405 runs at Lords, England by eight wickets here. I reckon this constitutes the most spectacular about turn in fortunes in successive ashes matches since 1965-66 when the teams traded innings victories in the second and third matches of the series.

Particularly welcome was the return to top form of Steven Finn who followed James Anderson’s first innings six-for with six wickets of his own the second. Among the scraps left by these two were enough wickets for Stuart Broad to reach 300 in tests. Ian Bell whose poor form had him in the last chance saloon with the last orders bell being sounded came up with two fifties in the match in front of his home crowd – and given the low scoring nature of the game these were easily worth centuries on a flat one.

An unfortunate injury means that for the fourth match at Trent Bridge England have the unenviable task of attempting to fill an Anderson shaped hole in their squad.

To finish this cricket related section, Surrey are putting on an event to celebrate women’s and girls cricket featuring current England captain Charlotte Edwards, head of ECB women’s cricket Clare Connor and being hosted by Surrey”s Director of women’s cricket Ebony Rainford-Brent…

Women's cricket

LINKS

My first set of links follow on from my last blog post and feature more on…

CECIL THE LION

First up an event that will probably remain unique in the history of aspiblog – a link to an article in the Daily Mail

Next, courtesy of Huffington Post, this piece by wildlife expert and occasional ballroom dancer Steve Backshall

Finally on this particular topic, this from The Age.

Lion

SCIENCE

Tonight is the second full moon in July – a rare event called a Blue Moon and best know for the cliche “once in a blue moon”. For a detailed account of the phenomenon check out this piece from discovery.com.

Next, courtesy of livescience come two dinosaur related links:

1)A new discovery of a dinosaur with an exceptional sense of smell

2)Photographs of remains of one of the largest animals ever to walk the earth.

Dinosaur bone

Ending this subsection on science, courtesy of bbc.co.uk, this piece about the Earth’s magnetic shield being older than previously thought.

ATHEISM

Just two connected pieces here:

1)A post on Patheos about an atheist suffering persecution

2)The original blog post that triggered the Patheos piece.

DISABILITY

Again, just two connected pieces:

1)An update on a change.org petition calling on Lego to positively represent disabled people

2)And a piece courtesy of themighty that connects to the above petition.

INFOGRAPHICS

I finish this post with two infographics, one from the Corbyn campaign and one on the subject of NHS pay…

Corbyn NHS