Web sites for teens

Wired has an article about what teens like in a Web site: large type, more images, and interactivity. They like to lean back in their chairs and view the screen from a distance. They want text leavened with images. And they want to be doing something and not just reading. For details, read “Wired: What Web sites do to turn on teens.”

Wired based their article on a study done by the Neilsen Norman Group.

View Comet Holmes from Ontario

Comet Holmes is a large, fuzzy ball visible to the naked eye. Check the Discovery Channel to see where look for it.

This might well be one of the brightest and largest comets of our lifetime, but unless the skies clear we won’t be seeing it.

Vancouver Island Marmot makes a modest comeback

Check this out at the Marmots web site: Vancouver Island Marmot numbers begin to recover.

Researchers find new way to make eyes

tadpole embryo with ectopic eyes

The University of Warwick research team led by Professor Nick Dale and Professor Elizabeth Jones from the University of Warwick’s Biological Sciences Department have published their work today, 25th October 2007, in Nature in a paper, “Purine-mediated signaling triggers eye development.”

The researchers were exploring whether release of ATP (an important molecule signaling and energy carrying molecule) influenced the development of locomotion  in frogs. Their experiment introduced molecules called ectoenzymes (normally found on the outside surface of cells) into frog embryos at one of the earliest stages when the frogs-to-be were just 8 cells in size. Three ectoenzymes were used: E-NTPDase1, E-NTPDase2 and E-NTPDase3. These ectoenzymes degrade ATP following its release from cells, however each version of the ectoenzyme has slightly different effects on this degradation.

The Warwick research team’s interest in locomotion was quickly eclipsed when they were amazed to find that the introduction of just one of the ectoenzemes (E-NTPDase2) had a dramatic affect on eye development in the tadpoles grown from these embryos. When introduced in cells that would form the head area of the tadpole multiple eyes appeared to be created. That was not the only surprise. When it was introduced in some cells that formed body parts outside the head area it could still produce an additional “ectopic” eye leading to tadpoles with an additional eye in their side, abdomen or even along their tail….

The genes that initiate and direct eye development are well known and are collectively termed the Eye Field Transcription Factors” (EFTFs). One of the mysteries of the field is how these genes get turned on in the correct location and at the correct time to initiate eye development. The Warwick research shows that this short burst of ATP followed by accumulation of ADP is a key signal for initiating expression of the EFTFs and hence the development of the eye.

The discovery of this surprising new signal that literally switches on eye development it is not restricted to frogs. Mutations to the E-NTPDase2 gene on the human 9th chromosome is already known to cause severe head and eye defects. This suggests that this newly discovered mechanism for triggering eye development applies across a wide range of species.

"Blood, Dirt, and Nomograms" by Thomas L. Hankins

One of the beta readers on Edward Tufte’s discussion group recommended this article: “Blood, Dirt, and Nomograms: A Particular History of Graphs” by Thomas L. Hankins. Here is one of its illustrations:

Charles Joseph Minard’s carte figurative of traffic on the major railroad lines of Europe. (From Marc Desportes and Antoine Picon, De l’espace au territoire: L’amènagement en France XVIeXXe siècles [Paris: Presses de l’École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, 1997], page 87.) Collection École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.

Why do people laugh at Creationists? 4

Here we go again: Creationist Kent Hovind opens his mouth to change feet:

New bone beds are found near Grande Prairie, Alberta

New “bone beds” of dinosaur fossils are found near Grande Prairie. From the article:

The Grande Prairie area was one of the few above water during many parts of the Cretaceous period…. A bone bed at Pipestone Creek, discovered in 1974 about 30 kilometres from Grande Prairie, has long been the region’s best area. Horned dinosaurs and other plant eaters have been the most common finds in the bed, where bones of many species and specimens are being excavated from stone.

It’s believed to be the remains of a river where many dinosaurs died at once, and has as many as 150 bones per square metre — five times that of Dinosaur Provincial Park, near Drumheller.

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