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Friday, July 9, 2010

Fish Found Walking in Gulf Spill

Pancakebatfish

Two new species of pancake batfish, which walk using their arm-like fins, have been found at the site of the Gulf oil spill, according to a study published in the Journal of Fish Biology.

Both fish live in waters either partially or fully encompassed by the Deepwater Horizon spill.

“One of the fishes that we describe is completely restricted to the oil spill area,” says John Sparks, curator of Ichthyology at the AMNH. “If we are still finding new species of fishes in the Gulf, imagine how much diversity -- especially microdiversity -- is out there that we do not know about.”

According to a press release issued by the museum, pancake batfishes are members of the anglerfish family Ogcocephalidae, a group of about 70 species of flat bottom-dwellers that often live in deep, perpetually dark waters. Pancake batfishes have enormous heads and mouths that can thrust forward. This, combined with their ability to cryptically blend in with their surroundings, gives them an advantage for capturing prey.

They use their stout, arm-like fins to walk awkwardly along the substrate; their movements have been described as "grotesque," resembling a walking bat. As most anglerfishes, batfishes have a dorsal fin that is modified into a spine or lure, although their lure excretes a fluid to reel in prey instead of bio-illuminating.

Sparks says the new "discoveries underscore the potential loss of undocumented biodiversity that a disaster of this scale may portend."

(Other species of fish walk too. The below video, for example, shows Australia's spotted handfish.)



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Make a DIY iPad stand from pencils and rubber bands

pencil ipad stand How To: Make a DIY iPad stand from pencils and  rubber bands

These days, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone actually using a pencil for writing, but it seems there’s still a healthy market for pencils being used as iPad stands. That’s right, we said it. An iPad stand made out of pencils. Forget paying for an iPad stand that’s only capable of holding your iPad in a more-or-less upright position, this DIY stand will happily prop up your Apple tablet one minute and have you scribbling notes the next minute. That’s what we call multi-tasking!

A handful of pencils, a collection of rubber bands, and the willingness to get crafty with your geeky self is all you need to create your own DIY iPad stand. You can use sharpened pencils to give your homemade stand some flair, but we recommend going the un-sharpened route if you want to avoid marking up your desktop. Thanks to the creative folks over at Geeky Gadgets, we’ve got a pictorial on how to save yourself some cash and slap together a functional tablet stand out of everyday items that you probably haven’t touched in years – we barely even know what a pencil feels like in the hand anymore.

To summarize, you basically create a triangle out of three pencils. This will serve as your base. Secure the points of this triangle with rubber bands. Then, insert the remaining three pencils into the top of your newly-created rubber band joints so that they point upwards. Finally, bring the tops of your upward-pointing pencils together to form a pyramid and secure them together with your remaining rubber band. You’ll want to use the eraser tips as the point of contact between the stand and your iPad – we’d also suggest you aim a couple eraser tips downward to provide grip on your desk.

We used the metal band that connects the eraser to the pencil as the resting point for our iPad. We wrapped the metal band with a bit of electrical tape to prevent the ridges from scratching our pristine tablet – you would do well to do the same.

Best of all, if you need an emergency pencil for some reason, you’ll always know where to find one.

So, if you’ve got some pencils lying around, give this DIY a go and let us know how it turns out!

We love DIYs.

[Via: GeekyGadgets]

'Beavis and Butt-Head' creator Mike Judge working on 30 new episodes

REVIEWING THE NEWS: REVIEWniverse has exclusive info about the possible return of Beavis and Butt-Head

By Kenny Herzog

From http://www.examiner.com/

Woah, Butt-Head is weirdly buff.

REVIEWniverse has exclusively learned from an anonymous source that Mike Judge is currently outlining 30 new episodes of his iconic animated comedy Beavis and Butt-Head for its native network.

The source conceded that plans for actual broadcast are not yet cemented, or even a given, but confirmed that the King of the Hill/Office Space/Idiocracy maestro is definitely in the midst of writing new B and B material with the hopes of a full-throttle return.

Even better news for fans is that, should this come to pass, Judge plans on retaining the show's original ghetto-tech aesthetic, right down to the faded color palatte. The source also reveals that the Extract director intends on keeping B and B's format identical to its original sketch-videos-sketch incarnation, but with more contemporary music clips for the cartoon slacker-duo to skewer.

And of course, this being the viral age, Judge could always just unveil the finished installments on his own website or through a high-profile online partner should MTV be crazy enough to hesitate making room in its primetime schedule.

In case you forgot how actually, truly funny Beavis and Butt-Head was amidst all that ancient, controversial history:

Advance in Quest for HIV Vaccine

From: http://online.wsj.com/

HIV research is undergoing a renaissance that could lead to new ways to develop vaccines against the AIDS virus and other viral diseases.

In the latest development, U.S. government scientists say they have discovered three powerful antibodies, the strongest of which neutralizes 91% of HIV strains, more than any AIDS antibody yet discovered. They are now deploying the technique used to find those antibodies to identify antibodies to influenza viruses.

Mark Schoofs discusses a significant step toward an AIDS vaccine, U.S. government scientists have discovered three powerful antibodies, the strongest of which neutralizes 91% of HIV strains, more than any AIDS antibody yet discovered.

The HIV antibodies were discovered in the cells of a 60-year-old African-American gay man, known in the scientific literature as Donor 45, whose body made the antibodies naturally. The trick for scientists now is to develop a vaccine or other methods to make anyone's body produce them as well.

That effort "will require work," said Gary Nabel, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who was a leader of the research. "We're going to be at this for a while" before any benefit is seen in the clinic, he said.

The research was published Thursday in two papers in the online edition of the journal Science, 10 days before the opening of a large International AIDS Conference in Vienna, where prevention science is expected to take center stage. More than 33 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2008, and about 2.7 million contracted the virus that year, according to United Nations estimates.

Vaccines, which are believed to work by activating the body's ability to produce antibodies, eliminated or curtailed smallpox, polio and other feared viral diseases, so they have been the holy grail of AIDS research.

The Quest for a Vaccine

See major developments in AIDS research.

Last year, following a trial in Thailand, results of the first HIV vaccine to show any efficacy were announced. But that vaccine reduced the chances of infection only by about 30%, and controversy erupted because in one common analysis the results weren't statistically significant. That vaccine wasn't designed to elicit the new antibodies.

The new discovery is part of what Wayne Koff, head of research and development at the nonprofit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, calls a "renaissance" in HIV vaccine research.

Antibodies that are utterly ineffective, or that disable just one or two HIV strains, are common. Until last year, only a handful of "broadly neutralizing antibodies," those that efficiently disable a large swath of HIV strains, had been discovered. And none of them neutralized more than about 40% of known HIV variants.

But in the past year, thanks to efficient new detection methods, at least a half dozen broadly neutralizing antibodies, including the three latest ones, have been identified in peer-reviewed journals. Dennis Burton of the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, Calif., led a team that discovered two broadly neutralizing antibodies last year; he says his team has identified additional, unpublished ones. Most of the new antibodies are more potent, able to knock out HIV at far lower concentrations than their previously known counterparts.

HIV is a highly mutable virus, but one place where the virus doesn't mutate much is where it attaches to a particular molecule on the surface of cells it infects. Building on previous research, researchers created a probe, shaped exactly like that critical site, and used it to attract only those antibodies that efficiently attack it. That is how they fished out of Donor 45 the special antibodies: They screened 25 million of his cells to find 12 that produced the antibodies.

Donor 45's antibodies didn't protect him from contracting HIV. That is likely because the virus had already taken hold before his body produced the antibodies. He is still alive, and when his blood was drawn, he had been living with HIV for 20 years.

While he has produced the most powerful HIV antibody yet discovered, researchers say they don't know of anything special about his genes that would make him unique. They expect that most people would be capable of producing the antibodies, if scientists could find the right way to stimulate their production.

Dr. Nabel said his team is applying the new technique to the influenza virus. Like HIV, influenza is a highly mutable virus—the reason a new vaccine is required every year.

"We want to go after a universal vaccine" by using the new technique to find antibodies to a "component of the influenza virus that doesn't change," said NIAID director Anthony Fauci. In principle, Dr. Fauci said, the technique could be used for any viral disease and possibly even for cancer vaccines.

Some of the new HIV antibodies discovered over the past year attack different points on the virus, raising hopes that they could work synergistically.

In unpublished research, John Mascola, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center, has shown that one of Dr. Burton's antibodies neutralizes virtually all the strains that are resistant to the antibody from Donor 45. He also found the reverse: The antibody from Donor 45 disables HIV strains resistant to one of Dr. Burton's best antibodies. Only one strain out of 95 tested was resistant to both antibodies, he said. Dr. Mascola is one of the authors of Thursday's papers.

Researchers say they plan to test the new antibodies, likely blended together in a potent cocktail, in three broad ways.

First, the antibodies could be given to people in their raw form, somewhat like a drug, to prevent transmission of the virus. But they would likely be expensive and last in the body for a limited time, perhaps weeks, making that method impractical for all but specialized cases, such as to prevent mother-to-child transmission in childbirth.

The antibodies could also be tested in a "microbicide," a gel that women or gay men could apply before sex to prevent infection.

[VACCINE]

The antibodies might even be tried as a treatment for people already infected. While the antibodies are unlikely to completely suppress HIV on their own, say scientists, they might boost the efficacy of current antiretroviral drugs.

Dr. Nabel said that the Vaccine Research Center has contracted with a company to produce an antibody suitable for use in humans so that testing in people could begin.

A second way to use the new research is to stimulate the immune system to produce the antibodies. Jonas Salk injected people with a whole killed polio virus, and virtually everyone's immune system easily made antibodies that disabled the polio virus. But for HIV, the vast majority of antibodies are ineffective. Now, scientists know the exact antibodies that must be made—those found in Donor 45 and in Dr. Burton's lab, for example. So researchers need "a reverse engineering technology" to find a way to get everyone to produce them, said Greg Poland, director of vaccine research at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

That's what scientists at Merck & Co. have done. In a study published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Merck Scientists knew that an old antibody, weaker than the newly discovered ones, attaches to a particularly vulnerable part of HIV. They created a replica of that piece of the virus to train the immune system to produce antibodies aimed at that exact spot. It was a painstaking process, requiring researchers to add chemical bonds to stabilize the replica so that it wouldn't collapse and lose its shape. Eventually, Merck was able to make experimental vaccine candidates capable of spurring guinea pigs and rabbits to produce antibodies that home in on the target site and neutralize HIV. Those vaccines weren't nearly powerful enough, but, said Dr. Koff, Merck's research provides a "proof of principle" that reverse engineering can work for the much stronger new antibodies.

There are other potential pitfalls. There is evidence that Donor 45's cells took months or possibly even years to create the powerful antibodies. That means scientists might have to give repeated booster shots or devise other ways to speed up this process.

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Finally, there are experimental methods that employ tactics such as gene therapy. Nobel laureate David Baltimore is working on one such approach.

His team at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., has stitched genes that code for antibodies into a harmless virus, which they then inject into mice. The virus infects mouse cells, turning them into factories that produce the antibodies.

Write to Mark Schoofs at mark.schoofs@wsj.com

Transfer Your iTunes Library Onto Your New OS

newmaconline.com It may be a daunting task to keep all your files when switching from Mac to PC or PC to Mac, but these simple steps will ensure you keep your iTunes library intact.

move your iTunes

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Happy Van Damme Friday: Classic Ladies Man

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