Stasis and convergence are not what Darwin had in mind, but that’s what new fossils show.Jurassic lacewing butterfly mimic: PhysOrg reports the discovery of a butterfly-like lacewing in the deep Mesozoic. The well-preserved fossils from Kazakhstan and China are dated 50 to 60 million years before the arrival of butterflies, but these members of Order Neuroptera have surprising affinities with Order Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), including a long, tubular nectar-feeding proboscis, wing scales, and prominent eye spots on its wings that resemble those of the owl butterfly. The details, with photographs, are in an open-access paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The fossil is so well-preserved, the researchers were able to detect carbon in the insect’s proboscis instead of iron, leading them to believe it fed on nectar, not blood. Since there were not supposed to be any flowering plants when this insect lived, the authors propose that it sipped on the nectar of gymnosperms, although they acknowledge that an “understanding of the ecology in mid-Mesozoic insect clades is sparse”.How is this to be explained in the evolutionary worldview? Co-author David Dilcher of Indiana University says in Science Daily, “we’ve unraveled a surprisingly wide array of physical and ecological similarities between the fossil species and modern butterflies, which shared a common ancestor 320 million years ago.” PhysOrg adds, “Their findings represent a striking example of convergent evolution between these two unrelated lineages, in which the two distinct groups of organisms evolve similar traits as they interact to similar features in their environments.” He personified the blind process of evolution in a joking manner:Evolution is a great innovator, Dilcher said. But at the same time: “if it worked once, why not try it again.”Stasis in diversity: Another headline on PhysOrg announces, “Unbiased statistical analysis of insect fossil records finds diversity unchanged over the past 125 million years.” This contradicts evolutionary expectations, the article says:Insects are astonishingly diverse, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all named animal species living today, and their diversity is widely thought to have increased steadily over evolutionary time. A new study, however, finds that insect diversity actually has not changed much over the past 125 million years. Insects were “extremely diverse in the past as well,” one evolutionist said, even though the rise of flowering plants was thought to stimulate insect diversity:A lot of modern insect groups have close ecological and evolutionary relationships with flowering plants, and the evolution of flowering plants is thought to have spurred rapid diversification of insects. But the new analysis found that the evolution of flowering plants did not make a big difference in insect diversity overall. Presumably, there were many insects that had coevolved with the plants that were dominant before flowering plants came on the scene, and those insect groups would have declined along with the plants they depended on.Knowing that insects don’t usually fossilize well, the team under Matthew Clapham (UC Santa Cruz) tried to avoid preservation bias by building a database of 39,000 insect fossils from about 25,000 species, then analyzing it with statistical methods.Using their own assumptions, evolutionists defeat evolutionary expectations in these two cases. They found similarity where it shouldn’t be. They found stable diversity where they expected an increase. Did you notice that the oft-repeated phrase “was thought” is in past tense? This happens all the time in evolutionary studies; what “was thought” is wrong. So will they modify their thoughts, so that what they are thinking now will influence future thought? Unlikely. So ingrained is evolutionary thinking, what was thought will continue to be thought regardless of the evidence.Convergence should repudiate evolution. It’s hard enough to imagine getting one family of insects by chance with nectar-feeding tools and mouthparts and scale-covered wings with eyespots (see Metamorphosis), let alone two families on completely different lineages. See Brett Miller’s discussion “The Convergence Concoction” to show the extent of similarities where they shouldn’t be according to evolution. But evolutionists are clever storytellers. They turn around and say that the similarities are due to “similar selective pressures.” You can’t win a scientific debate with a storyteller who thinks his imagination is equivalent to scientific evidence. (Visited 86 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Toddlers at the celebrations in Swellendam,Western Cape province, get stuck intoopening their gifts.(Image: Santa Shoebox) Thousands of pairs of willing hands havepacked Santa Shoeboxes according to aset of guidelines, and with more than adash of love and care, for South Africa’sneedy children this Christmas.(Image: Fiona McRae)MEDIA CONTACTS • Janie van der SpuyFivestar PR+27 21 462 1677Fiona McRaeThanks to an innovative community project, some of South Africa’s underprivileged children will be able to experience the joy of Christmas.In a heart-warming display of the festive season spirit of caring and sharing, a plethora of presents and a whole lot of love have been carefully packed into shoeboxes to provide almost 32 000 needy children with a gift this Christmas.The Santa Shoebox Project was established in Cape Town in 2006 by Dee Boehner, director of the public benefit organisation then known as From the Children, To the Children.The organisation has since changed its name to the Kidz2Kidz Trust, but its principle of providing privileged children with an opportunity to do something for their not-so-fortunate peers, thereby teaching them the importance and the joy of giving, remains the same.The project’s first outing five Christmases ago saw 180 personalised gift boxes pledged, packed and delivered for distribution to needy youngsters. The following year’s total reflected a strong growth to 2 000 boxes, which burgeoned to more than 8 000 in 2008.Last year’s donations grew even more to see Santa’s bags at collection points around the country stuffed with more than 16 000 beautifully decorated shoeboxes, which were distributed to more than 200 children’s homes, childcare facilities and places of safety.The target for 2010 was initially set at 16 000 boxes but strong support saw this figure revised upwards to 28 000.In a thrilling indication of how the project has captured the imagination of a caring nation, a phenomenal 31 663 boxes were eventually pledged and have been dropped off at the 15 collection points around the country.This year, for the first time, the project is also extending into neighbouring Namibia, with a collection point in Windhoek.Spreading the spiritOne of those who took part this year for the first time was Lauren Collier of Port Elizabeth. She heard of the initiative from friends in Cape Town who had previously supported it.While Collier was wondering how she would be able to get her box to one of the drop-off points in the Mother City, she learnt that the project was coming to Port Elizabeth this year for the first time thanks to the initiative of local co-ordinator Kim Keen. After also learning of the venture while on a visit to Cape Town, Keen was determined to see it implemented in her home city.And the response has “completely blown me away”, she says.She started her planning with a very conservative and, she hoped, reachable target of 150 boxes. Within a week of online pledges opening nationally on 1 September, all of these Port Elizabeth boxes had been snapped up and Keen was inundated with calls from would-be donors eager to deliver.As word of the project spread rapidly, local pledges kept pouring in until there were 1 125 boxes, enabling Keen to increase the initial list of four beneficiary facilities in Port Elizabeth to 18. Supporters even drove in from the neighbouring centres of Grahamstown and Port Alfred, more than 100km away, to drop off their boxes, she says.But it did not end there. East London, some 300km further up the Eastern Cape coast, got wind of the project and collected 60 boxes for its needy children – despite having no official co-ordinator. Keen roped her mother, a Buffalo City resident, in to help. “She didn’t know what had hit her,” she laughs.Another Eastern Cape town, the surfing mecca of Jeffreys Bay, collected 70 boxes, while a supporter from George, on the Garden Route, approached Keen to volunteer as co-ordinator for next year, to see the project also implemented there.An easy way to contributeBut what is it about this particular project that has caused an interested South African public to so generously open their hearts, and their wallets, for the country’s children?“I always like to do something for those less fortunate at Christmas, and this seemed an ideal way to contribute,” says 23-year-old Collier, who has just completed her studies as a primary school teacher.What especially appealed to her were the very clear guidelines for packing a box, which she found on the project’s website“This makes it so much easier than trying to figure out what is appropriate to give – and all the children at any one facility then get more or less the same sort of things, making sure no one is disappointed when they open their box.”Another aspect that appealed to Collier was the personalised gift-giving. Project supporters can select the age and gender of the child (or children) for whom the box is intended, and receive a gift label with the child’s name to be attached to it. They also know the organisation through which the child will be reached.Keen agrees that this is one of the project’s most appealing aspects – that supporters can know exactly where their donations will be going and who will benefit. However, generic boxes are accepted when the number of boxes donated exceeds the number of children whose names have been provided by the beneficiary organisations.The project, on its website, explains that many people want to contribute to their community or do their bit for charity, but often do not know where to start.“The Santa Shoebox Project takes pride in channelling all that positive energy and goodwill into something that is credible, achievable, makes a real difference in a specific child’s life and leaves the donors feeling really good about themselves,” it says.Gift guidelinesThe website indicates a list of items that must be packed into each box – and those to be avoided. Boxes are required to contain a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and a facecloth, an item of clothing, educational supplies, sweets and a toy. This carefully thought-out list ensures the child gets something to use, to wear, to do, to eat and to love.Gift ideas for each category are provided, with further ideas for boxes for babies and teenagers. All gifts must be new and age-appropriate. The organisation also warns of items which should not be packed into the box, such as fragile objects, electronics, medicines or violence-related toys such as guns or soldiers.Creativity is encouraged in both gift selection and decorating of the boxes, which can then become special keepsake boxes for the children – many of whom might never previously have had anything they could claim as exclusively their own.Volunteers at the designated drop-off points receive the boxes for distribution – this year to about 350 child-care facilities throughout the country, usually at Joy of Giving celebration parties.And Keen found plenty of local businesses only too happy to come to the party this year – all of Port Elizabeth’s celebration events have been sponsored by local companies, further enhancing the children’s Christmas experience.For her, being involved in “this amazing project” has been a humbling experience, Keen says. “It has been absolutely fantastic to realise how many genuine, caring and wonderful people filled with humanity there are out there.”And she has indeed seen the joy that both giving and receiving can bring. “Parents have really encouraged their children to get involved and make this project their own,” she says. “So youngsters have arrived beaming and proudly bearing their boxes – to be given to ‘a little boy’ or ‘a little girl … just like me’.”And the excitement and joy that opening a box holds for the receiver are something to behold, she says. “We had one young boy of about 10 who nearly went into orbit with delight when he unpacked his box to find a really cool Ben 10 t-shirt inside.”So, while it might not yet be the night before Christmas, Santa’s ever-growing band of helpers is already out there, hard at work delivering the goods.Swellendam Santashoebox Celebrations
A New Jersey state senator has proposed a $5 million “Tiny Home Pilot Program” to create clusters of houses, each no larger than 300 square feet, to provide more housing for the state’s poor.The website NJ.com reported the proposal from Senator Raymond Lesniak, a Union Democrat, would fund the program for three years.The average new house in the U.S. is almost 10 times that size, but Lesniak thinks tiny houses hold promise. “They’re comfortable accommodations, and really provide housing opportunities for lower income families that cost less money than the rents that they’re paying now, and also may be able to take some people off the streets,” he told the website.The proposed pilot program would be managed by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, which would choose towns in three regions of New Jersey. Towns that participated in the program would get extra credits toward their affordable housing obligations, NJ.com said. Little houses get more attentionCompanies like Tumbleweed Tiny House and the website Small House Society have focused more attention on these miniature dwellings, but their owners can’t always get building permits for them.Kent Pipes, the president of a non-profit affordable housing development company, for example, told NJ.com that he has been hoping to build housing with shipping containers ranging in size from 160 to 320 square feet, but has been unable to find a town that would grant a permit because they’re too small. Lesniak’s bill might help solve that problem in New Jersey.The idea of using very small houses to help the homeless has been tried elsewhere.A project for homeless people called Quixote Village in Olympia, Washington, includes 30 houses of 144 square feet each. The cottages have only a sitting/sleeping area, a bathroom and a closet. A laundry, showers and kitchen space are provided in a shared community building.Permit fees, road improvements and site development helped push the cost of that project over $3 million, and the project’s price tag was criticized by a number of GBA readers when the news story was published.
This “concentrating” solar thermal approach is even more sensitive to clouds and particles than PV panels, since the mirrors can concentrate only the sunlight that arrives in a direct beam from the sun. Clouds and particulate matter scatter the light into directions that can still be utilized by photovoltaic panels but not the precisely angled mirrors.Ivanpah was designed and built to burn some natural gas to maintain peak power generation during times of intermittent clouds. Without the natural gas, Ivanpah’s steam turbines could trip off-line, interrupting power generation. The extra energy from natural gas can enable peak power production to continue until sunny conditions resume or the turbines pause for the night.Ivanpah, which is the largest solar concentrating plant in the world, began operation in early 2014, but unexpectedly cloudy conditions dampened electricity generation to below intended levels. Thus, soon after opening, Ivanpah petitioned the California Energy Commission to increase its use of natural gas. The commission’s staff analysis noted that the request would increase the plant’s carbon dioxide equivalent emissions limit from 62 pounds per megawatt hour (lb/MWh) to 75 lb/MWh. Of course, actual emissions are lower if sunnier conditions negate the need for extra natural gas use and increase solar output.On a percentage basis, this looks like a big increase. But context is needed. U.S. power plants in 2012 emitted an average 1,137 lb/MWh of CO2 – 15 times Ivanpah’s “dirtier” new limit. In fact, this number understates the gap, since the Ivanpah limit includes associated maintenance vehicle emissions not counted in the national average.Fox News and others have branded Ivanpah a “carbon polluter” by noting that its CO2 emissions top a federal threshold that requires reporting as a greenhouse gas emitting facility. Not mentioned is that Ivanpah’s emissions are just half the threshold of a “major stationary source,” denoting large facilities such as fossil fueled power plants or factories. RELATED ARTICLES In Clash of Greens, a Case for Large-Scale SolarSolar Thermal Plant Blamed for Bird Deaths Surge in Renewables Remakes California’s Energy LandscapeHoping for a Climate Change BreakthroughRethinking the Grid Nine Surprising Signs That Momentum Is Building for Climate Action Power towerUnlike the photovoltaic (PV) panels that are proliferating on rooftops such as my own, Ivanpah generates its power by angling mirrors to gather the intense sunlight of the Mojave Desert to produce heat. The mirrors reflect sunlight onto three power towers, where steam turns turbines to generate electricity. The giant Ivanpah solar power plant in the California Mojave Desert recently detailed how much natural gas it burned to generate power when the sun wasn’t sufficient: the equivalent to 46,000 tons of CO2 emissions in its first year, according to reports.Along with its impacts on wildlife and its receipt of federal incentives, news of the CO2 emissions has renewed criticism of the 377-megawatt facility, which supplies 140,000 California homes during peak hours of the day.Why is a solar power plant using natural gas, and does the associated CO2 disqualify it as “green”?The use of natural gas to complement solar in fact highlights a trend toward what I call “speckled green” electricity generation – approaches that are not completely green, but in which natural gas enables more widespread, reliable, and affordable deployments of renewables. Transitional technology?Critics rightly note that Ivanpah’s natural gas use and associated emissions are far higher than originally anticipated, with gas-fired auxiliary power now at times needed 4.5 hours per day rather than one as originally expected. Some critics specifically attack the use of natural gas with solar as “dirty power.”Indeed, natural gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel whose use causes CO2 and methane emissions. However, unless we expect to switch to completely renewable fuels overnight, which is unrealistic, fossil fuels will remain a major part of our energy mix in the decades ahead.I believe using those fossil fuels synergistically with renewables offers great potential. The joint deployment of natural gas with solar thermal energy, sometimes referred to as a “hybrid solar” plant, is one such approach. At Ivanpah, natural gas provided less than 5% of the energy, yet may have substantially boosted solar power output by keeping the turbines online.More broadly, the rapidly dispatchable – that is, able to generate power on demand – and adjustable nature of natural gas power generators enable greater penetration of variable wind and solar on the grid while maintaining reliability. Desert tortoisesThere are, however, other arguments that critics could lodge against Ivanpah.Its electricity output underperformed expectations in its initial year, though output in 2015 has increased sharply. It’s likely that the added flexibility to use more natural gas, together with an extra year of experience, has contributed to the big boost in output.As a cutting-edge energy project, Ivanpah received $1.6 billion in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy, plus a $660 million tax refund under the 30% Investment Tax Credit. Ivanpah also benefits from the tradeable renewable energy credits it generates under California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Critics of government incentives for renewable energy may oppose the policies that enabled those incentives and credits. Also, as costs have fallen faster for utility-scale photovoltaic plants than for solar thermal plants, Ivanpah is no longer seen as representing the most affordable possible future for solar.In terms of environmental impacts beyond CO2, Ivanpah has been linked to 3,500 bird deaths. Environmentalists have also criticized Ivanpah for its proximity to some endangered species such as the desert tortoise.Indeed, Ivanpah does not deserve to be considered the pure electric green energy source that we might seek in an ideal world. But all energy sources have environmental impacts, whether from emissions of combustion or obtaining the fuels or building the power plants and solar panels. The bird deaths from solar are tiny compared to those from fossil fuels.At least from a climate perspective, I believe this particular case of “speckled green” energy is doing pretty well, reducing CO2 emissions per MWh by over 90% compared to our national average for electricity. For costs and more flexible siting, though, other approaches are likely to displace Ivanpah as exemplars of the path toward greener, more affordable electricity. Daniel Cohan is an associate professor of Environmental Engineering and Faculty Scholar at Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. This post originally appeared at The Conversation.
Take your After Effects knowledge one step further in part 2 of our 10 part After Effects Fundamentals video tutorial series. In this video tutorial we cover pre-comps, parenting and expressions.Welcome the second installment of our 10 part Adobe After Effects Fundamentals series. In Lesson 1 we learned all about the After Effects interface, shapes, effects and rendering. In this AE tutorial we will cover a few more essential concepts:Pre-compositionsParentingPick whippingBasic expressionsExpressions can be one of the most scary concepts to learn in After Effects, but worthwhile if you’re serious about motion design. If you are still confused after this tutorial check out our article on how to use expressions in After Effects. And of course, if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.Best viewed full screen:We will post new lessons every Monday for the next 10 weeks. Check the Premiumbeat blog for future lessons. And while you’re there you can watch more After Effects tutorials, read the latest filmmaking news and pick up some post-production tricks.What did you think of this lesson? Have any questions? Ask in the comments below.
1 dead in Cavite blast, fire Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next James Mangahas and Robby Celiz combined for 51 points for Zark’s, which turned a close game into a rout with a strong start in the final period.Later, Tanduay Rhum slipped past Marinerong Pilipino, 76-74, for a 2-1 card.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutLester Alvarez shattered a 74-all tie with a free throw off a technical foul on John Lopez. Jaymo Eguilos later nailed a foul shot for the final count. —WITH REPORTS FROM KRISTOFER PURNELL, CARLO ANOLIN Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Racela keeps faith in TNT import Joshua Smith LATEST STORIES WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage Having gone winless with the Mindanao Aguilas last season, Zark’s Burger coach Jade Padrigao was a picture of relief as the Jawbreakers pulled away late for a 109-91 victory over AMA Online Education in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Monday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.“I told them this was a must-win game for us,” said Padrigao after his team picked up its first triumph in four outings.ADVERTISEMENT World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide MOST READ Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken What ‘missteps’? Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH View comments
Prateik BabbarPrateik Babbar’s 25th birthday celebration recently cost him dear, but the young actor is not complaining. Son of late actress Smita Patil and actor-turned MP Raj Babbar, Prateik, who stars with Aamir Khan in Dhobi Ghat recently entered his 25th year on November 28, had quite a lavish bash.According to sources to the actor, Prateik had not planned anything on his birthday. “He went to a popular joint in the suburbs with one of his friends. He casually announced that it was his birthday, and therefore he would buy drinks for everybody present there. Prateik was greeted by loud cheering by everybody present there,” sources added.But to his shock, Prateik was presented a bill of Rs 70,000. “He took it sportingly, and footed the bill without any complaints,” sources said.