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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Daily Drift

Fun Facts Make Life Fun  ...
Carolina Naturally is read in 196 countries around the world daily.   

 Old Chest of Drawers  ... !
Today is - National Cherish An Antique Day

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Heilbronn, Germany
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Today in History

193 In the Balkans, the distinguished soldier Septimius Severus is proclaimed emperor by the army in Illyricum.
715 Constantine ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1241 In the Battle of Liegnitz, Mongol armies defeat Poles and Germans.
1454 The city states of Venice, Milan and Florence sign a peace agreement at Lodi, Italy.
1682 Robert La Salle claims lower Mississippi River and all lands that touch it for France.
1731 British Captain Robert Jenkins loses an ear to a band of Spanish brigands, starting a war between Britain and Spain: The War of Jenkins' Ear.
1770 Captain James Cook discovers Botany Bay on the Australian continent.
1859 Realizing that France has encouraged the Piedmontese forces to mobilize for invading Italy, Austria begins mobilizing its army.
1865 General Robert E. Lee surrenders his rebel forces to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Va.
1900 British forces route Boers at Kroonstadt, South Africa.
1916 The German army launches its third offensive during the Battle of Verdun.
1917 The Battle of Arras begins as Canadian troops begin a massive assault on Vimy Ridge.
1921 Russo-Polish conflict ends with signing of the Riga Treaty.
1940 Germany invades Norway and Denmark.
1942 In the Battle of Bataan, American and Filipino forces are overwhelmed by the Japanese Army.
1945 The Red Army is repulsed at the Seelow Heights on the outskirts of Berlin.
1950 Comedian Bob Hope makes his first television appearance.
1963 Winston Churchill becomes the first honorary U.S. citizen.
1966 The statue of Winston Churchill is dedicated at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
1968 Murdered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., is buried.
1970 Paul McCartney announces the official break-up of the Beatles.

Non Sequitur


How a Single Act of Evolution Nearly Wiped Out All Life on Earth

Colorful archaea grow in in ponds. 

A single gene transfer event may have caused the Great Dying

Evolution giveth, and, 252 million years ago, evolution nearly tooketh away.
The power of natural selection and random mutations have, over time, created the amazing diversity of life on Earth, from the little lice that live on your lashes to the mighty blue whale. But, once, a single act of evolution—the transfer of two genes from one type of bacteria to one type of archaea—nearly wiped out all life on this planet, suggests a team of researchers in a new study.
Roughly 252 million years ago, the Permian-Triassic extinction, known as the Great Dying, saw 90 percent of marine life and 70 percent of terrestrial life snuffed out in a relative blink of an eye. The functional cause was a disruption of the planet's carbon cycle, which transfers carbon between air, sea and land and keeps a certain portion in long-term storage. Something—scientists don't know for sure—caused a burst of carbon to come out of storage. When it did, the temperature soared, the ocean acidified and life on Earth nearly collapsed.
Previously, scientists have tried to pin the shift in the carbon cycle and the ensuing extinction on everything from meteorites to volcanoes. Some scientists say the Great Dying happened all at once, while others suggest it happened in waves.
In the new study, led by geophysicist Daniel Rothman, the researchers noticed something important about the rate of the disruption. If the extinction had been caused by a meteorite or volcano, the changes likely would have come as a burst before slowly tapering off. But that's not what they saw. Instead, the disruption of the carbon cycle appeared to be exponential—growing faster and faster with time. To them this suggests one thing: rampant microbial growth.
Though we tend to think of evolution as a particular individual organism having a genetic mutation that works out, in microbes, evolution can also happen when microbes of different types trade genes.
The scientists posit that, around the time of the extinction, a type of archaea known as Methanosarcina gained two genes from a bacteria. These genes gave them the ability to eat the organic wastes that litter the sea floor. As they ate, the archaea would have pumped out methane gas—rushing carbon that had long been stored in the organic materials back into the water. Through a genetic analysis, the scientists calculated that Methanosarcina gained this ability some time from 200 to 280 million years ago.
Whether Rothman and colleagues' speculations pan out will be seen with time, but that this scenario is even plausible is a testament to the power of microbial evolution. From the onset of photosynthesis to outbreaks of disease and who knows what's next, it's a reminder that Earth is the microbes' world. We just live in it.

Bags of fresh mountain air delivered to smog-choked Chinese city

Twenty bags of vacuum-packed mountain air were shipped to city dwellers in Zhengzhou, Henan Province from Laojun Mountain.
Locals lined up for a lungful from one of the 20 masks hooked up to pillow-sized bags filled with certified air from the mountain area 300 kilometers away.

Locals couldn't get enough of the pollution-free air, with some heavy breathers wringing the bags to squeeze out every last air molecule. Breathing from the disposable masks was limited to a few minutes for each person in order to stretch the precious supply.
"I felt my baby move right when I breathed in," said a woman surnamed Sun, who is eight months pregnant. "I would love to walk in the mountain's forests after my child is born," she added.

Food Quality and Rising CO2

Field study shows why food quality will suffer with rising CO2
For the first time, a field test has demonstrated that […]

Bach to the Future Fans Want to Rebuild Composer's House

by Karoline Kuhla
Bach to the Future: Fans Want to Rebuild Composer's House
In the city of Goethe and Schiller, classical music fans want another famous former resident to be honored in Weimar. They're seeking to rebuild the home of Johann Sebastian Bach, who composed some of his most important works in the city.  More

Restoring the Chateau de Gudanes

You can save money and have a great house if you buy a fixer-upper, but only if you are prepared for the work it needs. Australians Karina and Craig Waters went to France and bought the Chateau de Gudanes, a 300-year-old 94-room neoclassical mansion in which no one had lived for many years. Restoring the chateau to its historic grandeur is a long-term project, which they are documenting on their blog, Chateau de Gudanes. Get an overview of their story and see wonderful photographs of the architectural details at Messy Nessy Chic.

Magical Houses From Around The World

Over the course of the next few weeks we will feature some of the world's most unique and magical houses. Starting with this cozy little hillside home in the woods.

The Curious Cave Houses Of Kandovan, Iran

When we first think of Iran, we may consider the unrest in the Middle East, and may even demure from traveling to what we perceive to be a rather war-torn region of the world. If you take this stance, however, you will be missing out on one of the most unique and beautiful sights in the world.

In Kandovan, there is a collection of amazing houses, unlike any others in the world. For more than seven centuries, people have inhabited the caves in the surrounding mountains and stone formations, building themselves a community you cannot see anywhere else in the world.

Random Photos

12 Famous Shipwrecks That You Can Still Visit

There are an estimated three million undiscovered shipwrecks scattered on the oceans' floor across the world, some of which are thousands of years old. A large number of shipwrecks are historically significant and protected under UNESCO as underwater cultural heritage.
Many are abandoned and remain either submerged or grounded near beaches, sometimes gracefully, sometimes not, rotting under the elements of nature. Some of them have turned into tourist attractions because of the many photographic opportunities they offer.

The Haiku Stairs

Hawaii's Forbidden Stairway To Heaven

In 1942 the US military needed to send low-frequency signals so that they could communicate with their submarines circling Japan. They needed a radio transceiver and they needed it to be really high, so the peak of Pu'ukeahiakahoe mountain in Hawaii was chosen.

A somewhat wobbly wooden pathway was made and the transceiver and its antenna cables were installed. The pathway is still there today, but is out of bounds to those who wish to climb this Stairway to Heaven as it has become known.

Drombeg Druid Circle

Drombeg Druid Circle, Ireland

Tanah Lot Temple

Pura Tanah Lot, which translates to "Land in the Sea," is one of the seven sea temples off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. Local legend says that a traveling monk stopped to rest on the island and told fishermen to build a shrine there in order to worship the Balinese sea gods. Supposedly, poisonous sea snakes roam beneath the surface of the water to guard the temple against intruders and evil spirits.

Pura Lempuyang Door

Pura Lempuyang Door in Bali, Indonesia
See/go through this all the time
Pura Lempuyang Door in Bali, Indonesia



Mysterious Iceland Pillars Not Formed by Fighting Trolls

A complex interaction between lava and water, rather than a battle between mythical trolls, is responsible for unusual basalt pillars in Iceland.

Grand Canyon

Grand canyon hermits rest 2010.JPG
View from Mohave Point of the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon is located in Arizona
Arizona, United States
Floor elevation approx. 2,600 feet (800 m)
Long-axis length 277 miles (446 km)
Width 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29.0 km)
Geography Coordinates 36°06′N 112°06′W
Watercourses - Colorado River
View from the South Rim
The Grand Canyon (Hopi: Ongtupqa; Yavapai: Wi:kaʼi:la) is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is contained within and managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, and the Havasupai Tribe. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet or 1,800 meters). Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests that the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to its present-day configuration.
For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon ("Ongtupqa" in Hopi language) a holy site and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.
Read more here.


Animated, color-coded map showing the various continents and regions. Depending on the convention and model, some continents may be consolidated or subdivided: for example, Eurasia is most often subdivided into Europe and Asia (red shades), while North and South America are sometimes recognized as one American continent (green shades). 

A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with up to seven regions commonly regarded as continents. These are from largest in size to smallest: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.

In geology, continents are described by means of tectonic plates. Plate tectonics is the process and study of the movement, collision and division of continents.

Read more here.

Throat of Fire volcano in Ecuador erupts explosively

by Deborah Byrd
Tungurahua volcano April 4, 2014 via AP

A five-minute explosion from Tungurahua volcano shot hot gas and rock 6 miles (10 km) into the air on April 4, 2014. More explosions and tremors followed.

Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador erupted powerfully and explosively on Friday (April 4, 2014), sending a 6-mile (10-km) column of ash skyward. AP reports that the initial five-minute explosion shot hot gas and rock onto the volcano’s northern and northwestern flanks and that a second, four-minute explosions and five lesser tremors followed.
According to AP, Ecuador’s geophysics institute said Friday’s blast occurred at 6:10 p.m. local time.
Tungurahua is from the Quichua word tunguri (throat) and rahua (fire): “Throat of Fire.”
Ash cloud from Tungurahua volcano, by Daya Camacho, via @tweet_quake on Twitter.
Ash cloud from Tungurahua volcano
Ash cloud from Tungurahua volcano, by Daya Camacho, via @tweet_quake on Twitter.
Another shot of the ash cloud from Tungurahua volcano
 Major volcanos in Ecuador via Wikipedia
Major volcanoes in Ecuador
Tungurahua volcano is an active stratovolcano. This type of volcano is built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by periodic explosive eruptions and quiet eruptions.
Tungurahua been erupting periodically since 1999. Its eruptions have been ongoing since 2013, with several major eruptions since then, the last one prior to yesterday’s starting on February 1 of this year. AP reports that the 2014 eruptions of this volcano have affected a third of Ecuador’s provinces and temporarily closed a regional airport.
In 2006, a pyroclastic cloud from Tungurahua killed four people and left two missing.
Tungurahua volcano in quieter times (September 11, 2011) via David Torres Costales / @DavoTC
Tungurahua volcano in quieter times

Baby Volcanic Island Eats Its Older Neighbor

As a seafloor volcano continues to erupt in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean, a newborn island has swallowed its neighbor whole, images from space show.

Lava Lamp Physics and Earth's Crust

A neutrally buoyant layer may be floating between two layers deep in the Earth.

Daily Comic Relief


Forecast Tool Could Predict Winter Months Ahead

Were you blindsided by this brutal winter? A climate model may be able to forecast bad winter weather months in advance.

Climate Change: Why Haven't We Done More?

The latest U.N. report shows climate change is here -- and its effects will grow. So why haven't we done more?

More Flooding, Hunger Ahead Due to Climate Change

Soaring carbon emissions will amplify the risk of conflict, hunger, floods and mass migration this century, a UN report has concluded.

Garbage Patch Primer

Garbage floating in the Indian Ocean gyre is frustrating efforts to find Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

Southeastern Rivers, USA

From clear, cool streams in the Appalachian Mountains to the marshes and wetlands along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the rivers of the American Southeast are among the world’s richest freshwater systems. WWF is working to protect and restore these waters, which generations of people here have relied on for drinking, food and transportation.

A river runs through it

From southern Virginia west to Tennessee and south to Alabama and Florida, the rivers of the American Southeast are among the richest freshwater ecosystems in the world.

They support more than 250 species of crayfish, 275 species of mussels and about half of all freshwater fish species in the United States, including the uniquely named Halloween darter and pygmy madtom – the world's smallest catfish.

Within the Roanoke River Basin of Virginia and North Carolina, more than 200 fish species are found, of which 6 are found nowhere else in the world. With more than 150 fish species, Tennessee's Duck River is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in North America.

The region’s varied freshwater habitats also sustain numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, including the wood stork, North American river otter, American alligator and alligator snapping turtle.

Rivers at risk

The US Southeast is one of the country’s most highly populated areas. And as more people move to the area there is increased pressure on freshwater resources. Other serious challenges to the region’s diverse aquatic life are: unchecked development, agricultural runoff, pollution and dams.

WWF is working with federal and state agencies, and other organizations to achieve lasting conservation of this unique freshwater environment. This includes restoring wetlands, reintroducing river species and, overall, reaching a sustainable water balance between the needs of people and nature.
 / ©: Fritz PÖLKING / WWF
The endangered wood stork is the only stork species found in North America.

Snapping gators

 / ©: Martin HARVEY / WWF-Canon
The waters of the southeastern United States are not just about fish.
Lurking in slow-moving freshwater rivers, swamps, marshes and lakes is the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Endangered in the early 1960s from years of hunting and habitat loss, the alligators have rebounded, due to successful conservation efforts.

Also native to the region is the prehistoric-looking alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii), one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. With its spiked shell, beak-like jaws, and thick, scaled tail, this species is often referred to as the "dinosaur of the turtle world."

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Did the Amazon Warriors really exist?
  • The strange tale of Britain's last witch
  • The communist fantasy of living on the moon
  • Archaeologists vs. The National Geographic Channel
And more ...
This hummingbird is our Animal Picture, for today.