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First $1 million find for U.S. Antiques Roadshow !

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A woman who inherited some Chinese carved jade from her father has scored the first $1 million (601,557 pounds) appraisal from experts on the U.S. television program "Antiques Roadshow," the producers said on Monday.
In a record for the show, four pieces of Chinese carved jade and celadon from the Chien Lung Dynasty (1736-1795), including a large bowl crafted for the Emperor, were given a conservative auction estimate of up to $1.07 million.
"For 13 years, we've been hoping to feature a million-dollar appraisal on 'Antiques Roadshow;' it's been our 'Great White Whale,'" executive producer Marsha Bemko said.
"We're thrilled that, despite this year's slow economy, 'Roadshow' finally captured this elusive trophy," she said in a statement released by Boston-based production company WGBH, which licensed the format from the British show of the same name produced by the BBC.
On both shows, members of the public bring in items to be appraised by professionals in the hope of discovering that junk from the attic is actually a valuable treasure.
A spokeswoman said the appraisal was a record for the U.S. show, which is not affiliated with the BBC original. According to British media, the BBC's version had its first million pound appraisal ($1.655 million) last November -- a scale model of Anthony Gormley's artwork, "The Angel of the North."
The statement said the owner of the jade inherited the collection from her father, who bought the objects in the 1930s and 1940s, while stationed in China as a military liaison.
She brought them to an "Antiques Roadshow" event in Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday.
Asian arts appraiser James Callahan said the fine quality of the pieces indicated they were not made for tourists.
"He was rewarded by finding a mark on the bottom of the jade bowl that translates as 'by Imperial order,'" the statement said.
The previous highest appraisal on the show was a 1937 painting by American Abstract Expressionist artist Clyfford Still, found in Palm Springs, California, in 2008. The painting had been given a retail estimate of $500,000.
The appraisal of the jade items will be shown in the next series of "Antiques Roadshow" starting January 4 on PBS, the producers said.
By Claudia Parsons

Jackson lived like king but died awash in debt

Michael Jackson the singer was also Michael Jackson the billion-dollar business.
Yet after selling more than 61 million albums in the U.S. and having a decade-long attraction open at Disney theme parks, the "King of Pop" died Thursday at age 50 reportedly awash in about $400 million in debt, on the cusp of a final comeback after well over a decade of scandal.
The moonwalking pop star drove the growth of music videos, vaulting cable channel MTV into the popular mainstream after its launch in 1981. His 1982 hit "Thriller," still the second best-selling U.S. album of all time, spawned a John Landis-directed music video that MTV played every hour on the hour.
"The ratings were three or four times what they were normally every time the video came on," said Judy McGrath, the chairman and CEO of Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks. "He was inextricably tied to the so-called MTV generation."
Five years later, "Bad" sold 22 million copies. In 1991, he signed a $65 million recording deal with Sony.
Jackson was so popular that The Walt Disney Co. hitched its wagon to his star in 1986, opening a 3-D movie at its parks called "Captain EO," executive produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The last attraction in Paris closed 12 years later.
One of Jackson's shrewdest deals at the height of his fame in 1985 was the $47.5 million acquisition of ATV Music, which owned the copyright to songs written by the Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The catalog provided Jackson a steady stream of income and the ability to afford a lavish lifestyle.
He bought the sprawling Neverland ranch in 1988 for $14.6 million, a fantasy-like 2,500-acre property nestled in the hills of Santa Barbara County's wine country.
But the bombshell hit in 1993 when he was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy.
"That kind of represents the beginning of the walk down a tragic path, financially, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, legally," said Michael Levine, his publicist at the time.
He settled with the boy's family, but other accounts of his alleged pedophilia began to emerge.
When he ran into further financial problems, he agreed to a deal with Sony in 1995 to merge ATV with Sony's library of songs and sold Sony music publishing rights for $95 million. Then in 2001, he used his half of the ATV assets as collateral to secure $200 million in loans from Bank of America.
As his financial problems continued, Jackson began to borrow large sums of money, according to a 2002 lawsuit by Union Finance & Investment Corp. that sought $12 million in unpaid fees and expenses.
In 2003, Jackson was arrested on charges that he molested another 13-year-old boy. The 2005 trial, which ultimately ended in an acquittal, brought to light more details of Jackson's strained finances.
One forensic accountant testified that the singer had an "ongoing cash crisis" and was spending $20 million to $30 million more per year than he earned.
In March of last year, the singer faced foreclosure on Neverland. He also repeatedly failed to make mortgage payments on a house in Los Angeles that had been used for years by his family.
In addition, Jackson was forced to defend himself against a slew of lawsuits in recent years, including a $7 million claim from Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the second son of the king of Bahrain.
Memorabilia auctions were frequently announced but became the subject of legal wrangling and were often canceled.
Time and again, however, Jackson found a way to wring cash out of high-value assets, borrowing tens of millions at a time or leaning on wealthy friends for advice, if not for money.
Al Khalifa, 33, took Jackson under his wing after his acquittal, moving him to the small Gulf estate and showering him with money.
In his lawsuit, Al Khalifa claimed he gave Jackson millions of dollars to help shore up his finances, cut an album, write an autobiography and subsidize his lifestyle — including more than $300,000 for a "motivational guru." The lawsuit was settled last year for an undisclosed amount. Neither the album nor book was ever produced.
Another wealthy benefactor came to Jackson's aid last year as he faced the prospect of losing Neverland in a public auction.
Billionaire Thomas Barrack, chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm Colony Capital LLC, agreed to bail out the singer and set up a joint venture with Jackson that took ownership of the vast estate.
Barrack was unavailable for comment Thursday, but referred to the singer in a statement as a "gentle, talented and compassionate man."
A final piece of the financial jigsaw puzzle fell into place in March, when billionaire Philip Anschutz' concert promotion company AEG Live announced it would promote 50 shows in London's O2 arena. Tickets sold out, and the first show of the "This is It" tour was set for July 8.
Jackson, who has won 13 Grammys, hadn't toured since 1997. His last studio album, "Invincible," was released in 2001.
But the opening date was later postponed to July 13 and some shows moved back to March 2010, fueling speculation that Jackson was suffering from health ailments that could curtail his comeback bid.
His death, caused by cardiac arrest according to his brother Jermaine, raised the question whether an insurer would refund money to ticketholders. AEG Live did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jackson was practicing for the concert in Los Angeles at the Staples Center with Kenny Ortega, a choreographer and director of the "High School Musical" movies, who has worked on previous Jackson videos like "Dangerous" in 1993.
"We had a 25-year friendship. This is all too much to comprehend," Ortega said in a statement. "This was the world's greatest performer and the world will miss him."



Upstart Boxer Mutt with Underbite Steals Show
(Petaluma, CA) – As the crowd chanted “Pabst, Pabst,” the celebrity judges deliberated between the so-named boxer-mix shelter dog and Rascal, a former world champion Chinese Crested to determine who would be the 2009 World’s Ugliest Dog Champion tonight at the Sonoma-Marin Fair. First timer Miles Egstad from Citrus Heights, California was stunned at Pabst’s win. “ I don’t think he’s that ugly!” he said of his boxer mix whose under bite was his most compelling physical feature. His sweet personality made him an audience favorite. The Chinese Crested breed has dominated the contest for more than seven years and in this year’s contest represented more than 50% of the 2009 entries in the pedigree class. But Pabst, who was given his name because he had a “ bitter beer face”, according to his owner quickly won the crowd and the judges soon followed. Egstad, 25, first saw the contest on television and his friends urged him to enter his dog. Egstad won $1,600 from the Sonoma-Marin Fair for sweeping all three rounds ($100 for mutt class, $500 for runoff with the pedigree class winner, and $1,000 for World’s Ugliest Dog). This year sponsor House Of Dog upped the ante with another $1,000 in prize money, a table of “bling” that included collars, leashes, and bowls plus a year-round modeling contract that Pabst signed with his paw. Event Photographer Grace Chon included a professional photo shoot. Pabst was a rescue dog adopted by Egstad three years ago. It was the first time a “mutt” has won the contest in more than seven years. Halligan who is a vet, performed the screening for contestants to make sure all the animals were healthy. Contestants this year had to provide veterinarian releases documenting the health of their dogs. As Judge and Fair Board Member Brian Sobel says, “We were looking for dogs who were naturally ugly.” And Pabst was. The hoopla surrounding the contest included celebrity judges Karen “Doc” Halligan known for her television roles in Groomer Has It, Dog Tales, Animal Rescue 911 and Dogs 101. Dogs 101 shot the show for airing on the Animal Planet network this fall. Halligan was joined by Jon Provost known for playing the part of Timmy on Lassie. Brian Sobel, a Sonoma-Marin Fair board member, sat in the third judge’s seat. The local humane society was present with its adoption wagon. The fair also staged an Ugly is the New Beautiful Fashion Show with rescue dogs and models. The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is in its 21st year and has been trademarked by the Sonoma-Marin Fair.


A remarkable 100 years...1909-2009

Show this to your children and/or grandchildren or anyone else that matters to you!

This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine! The year is 1909. One hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes! Here are some statistics for the Year 1909 : ************ ********* ********* ******
The average life expectancy was 47 years.
Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles Of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
The average wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour.
The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year .
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME .
Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which Were condemned in the press AND the government as 'substandard. '
Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from Entering into their country for any reason.
Five leading causes of death were: 1. Pneumonia and influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke
The American flag had 45 stars.
The population of Las Vegas , Nevada, was only 30!!!!
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea Hadn't been invented yet.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, 'Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health'
Eighteen percent of households had at least One full-time servant or domestic help.
There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE ! U.S.A. !
I am now going to forward this to someone else without typing it myself. From there, it will be sent to others all over the WORLD - all in a matter of seconds!
Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years. IT STAGGERS THE MIND


First Image of a Memory Being Made !

For the first time, an image of a memory being made at the cellular level has been captured by scientists.
The image shows that proteins are created at connections between brain cells when a long-term memory is formed. Neuroscientists had suspected as much, but hadn't been able to see it happening until now.
The experiment also revealed some surprising aspects of memory formation, which remains a somewhat mysterious process.
Kelsey Martin, a biochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues investigated memory formation in neurons from the sea slug Aplysia californica, a good model for brain cells in other organisms, including humans.
The researchers exposed the neurons to the chemical serotonin, which has been shown to stimulate memory formation (this discovery won Eric Kandel and collaborators the Nobel Prize in 2000). But in a new twist, the scientists devised a way to determine whether any new proteins were created when the memory was made.
The researchers used a fluorescent protein that can change from green to red when exposed to ultraviolet light. They flashed the cells with light, so that any proteins that already existed turned red. But when the scientists induced the cells to form memories, they saw new green proteins appear under the microscope.
"One distinction between short-term and long-term memory is this requirement for making new proteins," said co-investigator Wayne Sossin, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal. "To make it last you do need protein synthesis."
While the details aren't clear, scientists suspect that the new proteins help strengthen synapses, which are the connections between neurons.
"Most neuroscientists believe that memories occur when you change the strength of synaptic connections," Sossin told LiveScience. "In terms of what actually happens when you make a memory, there are a number of different models for how that increase happens."
One of the surprising revelations of the new study is that more regions of RNA, a protein-building instruction manual similar to DNA, are required to form the new proteins than previously thought.
The researchers also saw that both sides of the synapse (called the pre- and post- sides) are involved in forming the memory, rather than just one, as some experts thought.
"That was sort of surprising," Martin said in a phone interview. "What's really different here is being able to look at a memory being formed at the level of individual synapses."
Scientists still want to understand more about how our brains translate memories made on the go into long-term storage. Since synapses are connections between cells, experts think that fortifying these connections, or perhaps even making new ones, helps our minds associate different ideas and form memories of connected events. Moskowitz


Pets Pass Superbug to Humans !

Transmission of an infectious superbug from dogs and cats to humans, and back again, is an increasing problem, a new study finds.
The superbug, a strain of bacteria known as MRSA, has evolved a resistance to antibiotics. It has long plagued hospitals but in recent years has become more common in homes. MRSA has even invaded beaches.
Only about two years ago, scientists began to seriously suspect pets were transmitting the bacteria.
In the July edition of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Richard Oehler of the University of South Florida College of Medicine and colleagues lay out the latest thinking on MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and pets.
The infections can be transmitted by animal bites and most threaten young children, the researchers note.
"As community-acquired strains of MRSA increase in prevalence, a growing body of clinical evidence has documented MRSA colonization in domestic animals, often implying direct acquisition of S aureus infection from their human owners," they write. "MRSA colonization has been documented in companion animals such as horses, dogs, and cats, and these animals have been viewed as potential reservoirs of infection."
Dog and cat bites make up about 1 percent of emergency room visits in the United States.
Some facts presented in the journal:
Women and the elderly are most at risk of being bitten by a cat.
Men in general and those aged under 20 of both sexes are most likely to be injured.
Most bite exposures occur in young children, involve unrestrained dogs on the owner's property, and about 20 percent involve a non-neutered dog.
Risk is highest in young boys aged 5 to 9 years, due to their small size and lack of understanding of provocative behavior.
Severe infections can occur in about 20 percent of all cases, the researchers state, and are caused by Pasteurella, Streptococcus, Fusobacterium, and Capnocytophaga bacteria from the animal's mouth, plus possibly other pathogens from the human's skin.
"Proper treatment of dog and cat bites should involve treatment of the immediate injury (whether superficial or deep) and then management of the risk of acute infection, including washing with high pressure saline if possible, and antibiotics in selected cases," the researchers suggest.
"Bites to the hands, forearms, neck, and head have the potential for the highest morbidity," the scientists warn. They conclude: "Much more remains to be learned about MRSA and pet-associated human infections."


How to Start a Conversation with New People

Whether you are a host or a guest, there are many social situations that will call for interaction, even when you are stumped for some way to get it going. For example, you might want to help a friend’s new “significant other” feel comfortable. Or, you might see a stranger across a crowded room, and realize that this is your only chance to impress Mr. or Ms. Wonderful. Then, you realize that you’re not sure what to say.
Start with a “hello,” and simply tell the new person your name then ask them theirs. Offer your hand to shake, upon his/her responding to you. (If you go to other countries, greet the person in tune with the particular culture). If you already know the person, skip this step and proceed to step.
Look around. See if there is anything worth pointing out. Sure, talking about the weather is a cliche, but if there’s something unusual about it–bam!–you’ve got a great topic of conversation.
Offer a compliment. Don’t lie and say you love someone’s hair when you think it’s revolting, but if you like his or her shoes, or a handbag, say so. A sincere compliment is a wonderful way to get someone to warm up to you. But be careful not to say something so personal that you scare the person off or make him or her feel uncomfortable. It is best not to compliment a person’s looks or body.
Ask questions! Most people love to talk about themselves — get them going. “What classes are you taking this year?” “Have you seen (Insert-Something-Here)? What did you think of it?” Again, keep the questions light and not invasive. Do not ask too many questions if he or she is not responsive to them.
Jump on any conversation-starters he or she might offer; take something he or she has said and run with it. Agree, disagree, ask a question about it, or offer an opinion, just don’t let it go by without notice.
Look your newfound friend in the eye, it engenders trust (but don’t stare). Also, use the person’s name a time or two during the conversation; it will help you remember the name, and will draw the person’s attention to what you are talking about.
Don’t forget to smile and have fun with your conversation!
Tips :
Just relax. Chances are that whatever small-talk you’re making isn’t going to stick out in anyone’s mind a few months from now. Just say whatever comes into your head, so long as it’s not offensive or really weird. (Unless, of course, the person you’re attempting to converse with is into weird stuff.)
Remember, if you think of something in your head while you’re talking, it’s probably related.
It will help if you watch some TV, listen to radio shows, and/or read a lot — newspapers, magazines, and/or books. You need to have some idea of what is going on in the world. Also remember and plan to share anything you like, think is funny, or find intriguing. This is building up your own library of things that might be helpful to another person during a conversation someday. It will be amazing how you thread these interesting things when you least expect it, and make conversation an adventure instead of a dreadful task. If you take it to the next step and say things that you want the person to think of as adding value, and keep to yourself things that the person might not, you are actually honing your own personality to be appealing to the other person, and what is a greater act of kindness than that.
If you are shy, it will be helpful to have thought about a topic or two that you could talk about.
Follow the lead that your listener is expressing. If he or she appears interested, then continue. If he or she is looking at a clock or watch, or worse, looking for an escape strategy, then you have been going on for too long.
Interesting and funny quotes or facts can lighten things up, and make way for things to talk about. You could also use a set of conversation starter question cards for inspiration.
If talking over the phone, keep the person involved in the conversation at all costs. If you can’t come up with a good topic, try the “questions” game. Just keep asking them questions; random questions work just fine as long as they are appropriate. This technique can save a phone conversation. The questions should be open ended questions that do not require a yes or no answer. For example “How do you know the hosts?” This way you can ask questions about what they just said or follow up with how you know the hosts (for example) instead of acting as if the conversation is an interrogation.
Half of an effective conversation is the way you non-verbally communicate, and not necessarily what you say. Practice better non-verbal skills that are friendly and confident.
Read newspapers and magazines to increase your knowledge so you can have more interesting things to talk about.
"Priya Malhotra"


4 Exercises to Sharpen Your Brain

Think of your brain as a muscle: It gets stronger with exercise. Your everyday mental tasks are like walking, but how about a real workout? Try these simple exercises to boost your brain power and clear away the fog of forgetfulness.
1. Use your non-dominant handTackling new tasks improves brain capacity in younger people and has a restorative effect on mental faculties that are declining. Boost your brain power right now by performing everyday activities with your non-dominant hand. If you're right-handed, use your left hand to eat, drink, comb your hair, and brush your teeth. Try writing your name with your non-dominant hand or put your mouse pad on the other side of the keyboard. Why does this work? The human brain starts declining after the age of 30 especially in women with each successive pregnancy. By exercising your brain through the use of non-dominant hand, you are stimulating the opposite side of the brain and activating blood flow, which slows down the brain aging process and improves mental capacity. Evidence from functional brain imaging shows that the process of neuroplasticity -- the brain's natural ability to form new connections -- can be enhanced by studying new things, especially hand-eye coordinated exercises like developing the use of your non-dominant hand and practicing visualization meditation. For an effective guided visualization that will also increase your years, check out Meditations to Live to Be 100.
Stimulating communication between the two hemispheres even helps physical balance. Mind-body exercises like tai chi coach people to use the right and left side of the body equally. Try switching it up in sports. For instance, in tennis, switch the racquet to your non-dominant side and play.
2. Work out your brainYou have to use it or lose it! You can work out your mind just like you work out your body. Mental exercises that will keep your brain fit include doing crossword puzzles, playing chess, or memorizing names, shopping lists, and phone numbers. When I was a young boy, to keep my brain function strong, my father had me memorize Tang Dynasty poetry. Every day I had to memorize a new poem and recite it back. Learn the words to a poem or a new song and repeat them back from memory. Set aside the calculator and add manually instead. Keep challenging yourself with tasks that are new to you.Whatever mental exercise you choose, the key to success is to practice every day at the same time; you are developing and activating new neural pathways, and consistent cycles will keep the brain on track.
3. Move your fingers to improve your brainMany people marvel that Asian children seem so intelligent. It could be because they use their fingers more frequently. They eat with chopsticks and at one time, they used to compute with an abacus in school. In fact, some studies have been done with children who use an abacus daily, and findings show that engaging the fingers stimulates nerve endings that go directly to the brain, increasing circulation. Take advantage of this by practicing motor activities that use your fingertips, like crocheting, knitting, and other arts and crafts where you are manipulating small parts. Try playing the piano or a stringed instrument. Here is an exercise you can do anywhere, at any time. Put one finger on top of the one next to it, then try to stack the next finger on top of that. Or hold a pencil or pen between your index and middle fingers, roll it over until it's balanced between the middle and ring fingers, then again to between the ring finger and pinky. This exercise has a beneficial impact on brain health for anyone at any age, but especially for people in their 40s, 50s and beyond -- when signs of brain aging starts to set in.
Why does this work? A map of the brain shows that the nerve endings on your fingertips correspond to more areas of the brain than any other body area, except perhaps the tongue and lips. Therefore, finger exercise and movements can be useful in stimulating the neurons in the brain. The National Institute of Mental Health conducted experiments that showed finger exercises enlarged the capacity of the participants' brains, increased connections between neurons, forged new neural pathways, and increased circulation to the brain areas. The researchers concluded that finger exercise contributed significantly to brain plasticity, the ability of the brain to renew itself. Increased circulation means more oxygen and nutrients for the brain cells and decreased waste products that clog up the brain.
4. Stimulate brain acuity with self-massageTo improve concentration and memory try this self-massage that stimulates two easy-to-find acupressure points on your neck at the base of the skull. Cross your hands behind you with the palms cradling the back of your head, your thumbs in the grooves on each side of your neck, and your index fingers crossing one another below the skull, just above the thumbs. Sit in a chair, lean your head back, and let it rest against the pressure of your thumbs and index fingers. Slowly inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth, letting your whole body relax. Do this for three to five minutes. You'll increase blood flow to the brain and at the same time relax the neck muscles, which often tense up in response to stress, constricting blood vessels in the area.You can find these, and many other brain boosting tips in my new book, Second Spring. I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me. May you live long, live strong, and live happy !
By Dr. Maoshing Ni


Ancient Holy Land quarry uncovered, team says

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Archaeologists said on Sunday they had discovered the largest underground quarry in the Holy Land, dating back to the time of Jesus and containing Christian symbols etched into the walls.
The 4,000-square-meter (yard) cavern, buried 10 meters beneath the desert near the ancient West Bank city of Jericho, was dug about 2,000 years ago and was in use for about half a millennium, archaeologist Adam Zertal said.
The cave's main hall, about three meters tall, is supported by some 20 stone pillars and has a variety of symbols etched into the walls, including crosses dating back to about AD 350 and Roman legionary emblems.
Zertal said his team from Haifa University first discovered the site three months ago while they were putting together a detailed archaeological map of the area.
"We saw a hole in the ground ... and went down and discovered this giant cavern, originally a quarry, built uniquely with hall after hall," Zertal told Reuters.
The team believes the stones were used in buildings and churches in the region, but Zertal said further research was necessary.
The site may eventually be turned into one of the largest underground tourist sites in the Holy Land, he said.
(Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Michael Roddy)


Evidence Found for Ancient Mars Lake !

Several studies in recent years have claimed evidence for shorelines and other features that suggest ancient lakes on Mars. Firm evidence has remained elusive.
Now a University of Colorado at Boulder research team claims "the first definitive evidence of shorelines on Mars" in a statement released today.
The scientists see signs of "a deep, ancient lake," which would have implications for the potential for past life on Mars. Life as we know it requires water, and while Mars is dry now, if there was abundant water in the past -- as many studies have suggested -- then life would have been a possibility. There is, however, no firm evidence that life does or ever did exist on the red planet.
Researchers estimate the lake existed more than 3 billion years ago. It covered as much as 80 square miles and was up to 1,500 feet deep -- roughly the equivalent of Lake Champlain bordering the United States and Canada, said Gaetano Di Achille, who led the study out of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The shoreline evidence, found along a broad delta, included a series of alternating ridges and troughs thought to be surviving remnants of beach deposits.
"This is the first unambiguous evidence of shorelines on the surface of Mars," Di Achille said. "The identification of the shorelines and accompanying geological evidence allows us to calculate the size and volume of the lake, which appears to have formed about 3.4 billion years ago."
The findings have been published online in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Other studies have claimed evidence for lakes on Mars too, however, including one in Holden Crater announced last year.
And several studies have found evidence -- from possible shorelines to salty deposits indicating the evaporation of water -- for shallow lakes or oceans. Ancient Mars had abundant water, many lines of evidence indicate.
Images used for the study were taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
An analysis of the images indicates water carved a 30-mile-long canyon that opened up into a valley, depositing sediment that formed a large delta, the researchers conclude. This delta and others surrounding the basin imply the existence of a large, long-lived lake, said Hynek, also an assistant professor in CU-Boulder's geological sciences department. The presumed lake bed is located within a much larger valley known as the Shalbatana Vallis.
"Finding shorelines is a Holy Grail of sorts to us," said Brian Hynek, also of CU-Boulder.
In addition, the evidence shows the lake existed during a time when Mars is generally believed to have been cold and dry, which is at odds with current theories proposed by many planetary scientists, he said. "Not only does this research prove there was a long-lived lake system on Mars, but we can see that the lake formed after the warm, wet period is thought to have dissipated."
Further research will be needed to sort out the discrepancies, however.
Planetary scientists think the oldest surfaces on Mars formed during the wet and warm Noachan epoch from about 4.1 billion to 3.7 billion years ago that featured a bombardment of large meteors and extensive flooding. The newly discovered lake is believed to have formed during the Hesperian epoch and postdates the end of the warm and wet period on Mars by 300 million years, according to the study.
The deltas adjacent to the lake are of high interest to planetary scientists because deltas on Earth rapidly bury organic carbon and other biomarkers of life, Hynek said. Most astrobiologists believe any present indications of life on Mars will be discovered in the form of subterranean microorganisms.
But in the past, lakes on Mars would have provided cozy surface habitats rich in nutrients for such microbes, Hynek said.
The retreat of the lake apparently was rapid enough to prevent the formation of additional, lower shorelines, Di Achille said. The lake probably either evaporated or froze over with the ice slowly turning to water vapor and disappearing during a period of abrupt climate change, according to the study.
Di Achille said the newly discovered pristine lake bed and delta deposits would be would be a prime target for a future landing mission to Mars in search of evidence of past life.
"On Earth, deltas and lakes are excellent collectors and preservers of signs of past life," said Di Achille. "If life ever arose on Mars, deltas may be the key to unlocking Mars' biological past."



More than half of men (and their wives and lady friends) complain about foot odor. Yes, some people have difficulty with fungus or bacteria production, but usually, people just dont wash them well enough, reasoning that "I'm standing in the shower, with soapy water running over my feet, that's good enough." Clearly not.With all the nooks and crannies, you simply dont get rid of odor-causing bacteria - and that is what causes odor. You brush your teeth every day – wash your feet.Most of you dont need special deodorizers or powders. Here are a few simple steps.InstructionsStep 1 - First, scrubem in the shower, tops and bottoms, with a bath brush preferably, a washcloth at least. You can try a deodorant soap, but the trick is to get rid of the odor-causing bacteria. Step 2 - Spend time on each foot, getting in between toes, hitting every surface. The rule of thumb for washing bacteria off hands is to wash for 30 seconds, or two verses of "Happy Birthday." Use three verses for your feet. Step 3 - Wear cotton, silk or wool socks, as much as possible. Synthetics dont breathe, and promote moisture and bacteria. Step 4 - Put a dash of baby powder, or talcum, or maybe Gold Bond powder in your shoes when you take them off. The powder absorbs the moisture from the days wear, and from your feet the next time you wear them. Step 5 - Lastly, if you still get odor – use a simple spray deodorant. Spray deodorant works by inhibiting bacteria growth in your armpits, it will do the same for your feet. The specialized foot deodorants arent usually necessary.You ll be surprised and delighted how well this works.




Coconut Crab (Birgus latro) is the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world.
It is known for its ability to crack coconuts with its strong pincers in order to eat the contents.
It is sometimes called the robber crab because some coconut crabs are rumored to steal shiny items such as pots and silverware from houses and tents.
The second photo gives you a good idea of how large these crabs are :
(a coconut crab is seeking food from a black trash can.)
The coconut crab is a large edible land crab related to the hermit crab, and are found in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans .
They eat coconuts for a living !
How would you like to be on an island and come across a crab that is more than 3 feet from head to tail and weighs up to 40 pounds, with a pair of large pincers strong enough to open coconuts ?! They can climb trees too, but they only eat coconuts that have already fallen to the ground. Coconut crab meat has been considered a local delicacy.


The KNIGHT XV is priced at $310,000 USD .
Only 100 will be made available as a limited first run.
Each vehicle takes 1,500 hours to build by hand .
Price: $310,000
Production : 100
Engine : 6.8 liter V10 Weight/Aspiration / Torque : 498 lb-ft HP/ 400 hp HP/Weight / HP Liter 58.8 hp per liter 1/4 mile -- 0-62 mph


The Palm Pre or the iPhone: Which one's right for you?

We could argue all day about which of these red-hot handsets is the best smartphone of all, but here's a better (and more practical) question: which one is a better fit for you, personally, the Pre or the iPhone?
I've spent quality time with both phones (although not the latest iPhone, the 3G S), and overall, they're two of the best smartphones I've ever tested. So, which one is better? The truth of the matter is that they're each aces at different things—and by the same token, each phone has its weak points.Rather than plow through each and every Pre and iPhone feature to render an absolute verdict (that's been done to death, anyway; click here for a selection of exhaustive reviews), I've ticked off a series of key smartphone functions that'll appeal to different people. I'm not picking an overall winner, and note that I've tipped the Pre for half of the categories listed below, the iPhone for the other half. Take a gander and focus on the activities that matter most to you. Once you've gone through the list, hopefully you'll have a better idea of which phone is better suited to your needs and wants. (And if you have any questions about the Pre or the iPhone—any of them—post them in the comments and I'll get back to you.)And here we go …The (tactile) typist: Palm PreThere's no question that tapping on the iPhone's virtual glass "keypad" takes getting used to—indeed, I've met plenty of peeps who've never warmed up to it. If you're dead-set on an actual, physical keypad, then the Pre is for you. Yes, the Pre's keypad is tiny, but after several days of use I can attest that it's surprisingly easy to use—the domed keys are actually quite prominent, with a nice rubberized feel. The app addict: iPhoneThis one's pretty much a no-brainer for now. With a year's head start on Palm, Apple's App Store is packed with upwards of 50,000 apps, while the Pre's skimpy App Catalog only has about two dozen choices—and Palm has yet to distribute the WebOS SDK to the developer community at large. Until Palm steps up its game, the iPhone reigns supreme as far as apps are concerned.The gabber: Palm PreThe wide, flat iPhone has always been a bit awkward to hold up to your cheek during voice calls (the speaker often ends up an inch or so above my ear), while the smooth, rounded Pre makes for a far more comfortable fit. Then there's the fact that the Pre can automatically (and seamlessly) grab contact info from all your Facebook and Gmail pals, and you can search for contacts right from the dial pad screen. Finally, there's the issue of Sprint's network versus AT&T's—and while signal strength always depends on your local coverage area, it was a joy to chat with friends on the Sprint-powered Pre in my Brooklyn living room without hearing them shout, "What? You still there? Hello?" (And yes, I now own an AT&T iPhone 3G).The videophile: iPhoneThe Pre has a video player, all right, but picture quality on the new Palm phone looks a bit washed out compared to the warmer, deeper color on the bigger iPhone display (or at least, that's how it looks to me). The Pre also seems to chug a bit when it's playing videos, with a occasional stuttering and significant lag whenever you tap the display to bring up the player controls. And while, the iPhone gets access to thousands of downloadable movie rentals and TV shows on iTunes, the Pre's library of video content—even with the streaming snippets of news, sports, and entertainment (plus a few dozen streaming movies) on Sprint TV—is comparatively meager. (Now, if Amazon were to allow "On Demand" movie and TV downloads on the Pre, then we'd really have something.)The multitasker: Palm PreThe Pre's coolest feature by far is its ability to run multiple apps at once, and the new WebOS uses a brilliant interface for swiping between open programs—basically a "deck of cards" that you can shuffle and tap to open. Want to close an application? Just flick the card up and away, and the app flies off the screen with a cool "whhpt!" sound effect. I love it—and it's something you can't do on the iPhone, which forces you to quit one application before switching to another one.The music lover/podcaster: iPhoneThe iPod interface on the iPhone (and the iPod Touch, for that matter) is one of the best in the business, complete with Cover Flow, EQ settings, a scroll bar for "scrubbing" through tracks, "Genius"-generated playlists, and native support for podcasts. The Pre's music player is solid in its own right—I like that you can flick through a row of album covers to see which tracks are coming next—but with no EQ settings or playlist support (beyond tucking all your podcasts into a "Podcast" playlist, if you sync via iTunes), and no scrolling progress bar, the Pre's player falls a bit short.The e-mail/messaging addict: Palm PreThe iPhone's gorgeous Mail app was groundbreaking back in 2007, but the Pre one-ups it with its unified messaging inbox, not to mention native instant messaging and threaded SMS/IM conversations, plus presence indicators baked into the contact list. The Pre does Exchange, as does the iPhone, but it also offers handy e-mail and IM notifications in an unobtrusive window along the bottom of the screen. I can't believe Apple hasn't copied the Pre's notification system for the iPhone yet.The navigator: iPhoneBoth the iPhone (well, the 3G and 3G S models, anyway) and the Palm Pre come armed with GPS and Google Maps, while the Pre ships with Sprint Navigation with turn-by-turn directions. But the iPhone's Google Maps interface is a bit slicker than the Pre's, with the ability to search your contacts directly within Maps and pull up different sets of directions depending on whether you're driving, on foot, or taking public transportation. The iPhone also does Google Street View, while the new 3G S will come with a digital compass that'll orient Google Maps in the right direction. So, which phone is right for you: Pre or iPhone? Or neither? Let us know.The Apple iPhone 3G S will be available June 19 on AT&T for $199 (16GB) or $299 (32GB), while the 8GB iPhone 3G is on sale for $99. The Palm Pre is on Sprint for $199 (8GB only). Note that all prices require new, two-year contracts, and existing subscribers must qualify for a subsidized upgrade.
Correction: As many of you have pointed out, my original post listed the wrong capacities for the new iPhone 3G S; they are (of course) 16GB and 32GB, not 8GB and 16GB. Sorry for the goof.
by : Ben Patterson: The Gadget Hound


Hands-Free Cell Phones !

Forget Bluetooth. If you want a hands-free cell phone, try something like this instead.

Surfaces, Surfaces, Surfaces !

I’m sort of a nut job when it comes to minimalism. If I’m going to be a minimalist, I’m extreme. I like surfaces, surfaces, surfaces. Designer Emili Diaz understands my OCD-like vice so his Table 180 suits me to a tee. On the “surface” it looks all clean and unassuming but just underneath are a bevy of panels hiding compartments for every need be it dining or working. This is concept only but I’d like to have one.
Designer: Emili Manrique Diaz



Unexpected Bacterial Diversity On Human Skin

The health of our skin - one of the body's first lines of defense against illness and injury - depends upon the delicate balance between our own cells and the millions of bacteria and other one-celled microbes that live on its surface. To better understand this balance, National Institutes of Health researchers have set out to explore the skin's microbiome, which is all of the DNA, or genomes, of all of the microbes that inhabit human skin.
Their initial analysis, published in the journal Science, reveals that our skin is home to a much wider array of bacteria than previously thought.
The study also shows that at least among healthy people, the greatest influence on bacterial diversity appears to be body location. For example, the bacteria that live under your arms likely are more similar to those under another person's arm than they are to the bacteria that live on your forearm.
"Our work has laid an essential foundation for researchers who are working to develop new and better strategies for treating and preventing skin diseases," said Julia A. Segre, Ph.D., of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), who was the study's senior author.
"The data generated by our study are freely available to scientists around the world. We hope this will speed efforts to understand the complex genetic and environmental factors involved in eczema, psoriasis, acne, antibiotic-resistant infections and many other disorders affecting the skin."
Drawing on the power of modern DNA sequencing technology and computational analysis, the research team from NHGRI, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the NIH Clinical Center uncovered a far more diverse collection of microbes on human skin than had been detected by traditional methods that involved growing microbial samples in the laboratory.
The NIH study involved taking skin samples from 20 sites on the bodies of 10 healthy volunteers. "We selected skin sites predisposed to certain dermatological disorders in which microbes have long been thought to play a role in disease activity," said study coauthor Maria L. Turner, M.D., senior clinician in NCI's Dermatology Branch.
The researchers extracted DNA from each sample and sequenced the 16S ribosomal RNA genes, which are a type of gene that is specific to bacteria. The researchers identified more than 112,000 bacterial gene sequences, which they then classified and compared.
The analysis detected bacteria belonging to 19 different phyla and 205 different genera, with diversity at the species level being much greater than expected.
To gauge how much the skin microbiome differs among healthy people, the researchers studied many different parameters. They found considerable variation in the number of bacteria species at different sites, with the most diversity being seen on the forearm (44 species on average) and the least diversity behind the ear (19 species on average).
The research also generated information that may prove useful in efforts to combat the growing problem of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that can cause serious, even life-threatening, infections.
While it is known that a significant proportion of people have colonies of S. aureus inside their noses, the NIH team checked to see where else on the body surface that these bacteria thrive. They found that the crease of skin outside the nose is the site with the microbial community most similar to that found inside the nose.
"Not only does our work shed new light on understanding an important aspect of skin biology, it provides yet another example of how genomic approaches can be applied to study important problems in biomedical research," said NHGRI's Scientific Director Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., who is a co-author of the study.
"This also demonstrates what can be achieved through efforts that pull together researchers from across NIH."
NIH recently launched the Human Microbiome Project, a part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research
, to discover what microbial communities exist in different parts of the human body and to explore how these communities change with disease. In addition to skin and nose, that project is sampling the digestive tract, the mouth and the vagina.
The skin sites selected for the Science study represent three microenvironments: oily, moist and dry. The oily sites included between the eyebrows, beside the nose, inside the ear, back of the scalp, and upper chest and back.
Moist areas were inside the nose, armpit, inner elbow, webbed area between the middle and ring fingers, side of the groin, top fold of the buttocks, behind the knee, bottom of the foot and the navel. Dry areas included the inside surface of the mid-forearm, the palm of the hand and the buttock. Researchers found that dry and moist skin had a broader variety of microbes than did oily skin. Oily skin contained the most uniform mix of microbes.
To look for changes that may occur in the skin microbiome over time, the researchers sampled some volunteers twice, with the samples being taken about four to six months apart. Most of the re-sampled volunteers were more like themselves over time than they were like other volunteers.
However, the stability of the microbial community was dependent on the site surveyed. The greatest stability was found in samples from inside the ear and nose, and the least stability was found in samples from behind the knee.
"Our results underscore that skin is home to vibrant communities of microbial life, which may significantly influence our health," said the study's first author, Elizabeth Grice, Ph.D., who is a postdoctoral fellow at NHGRI.


A Billion Year Ultra-Dense Memory Chip

Berkeley CA (SPX)
Berkeley Lab researchers have created a unique ultra-high density memory storage medium that can preserve digital data for a billion years.When it comes to data storage, density and durability have always moved in opposite directions - the greater the density the shorter the durability.
For example, information carved in stone is not dense but can last thousands of years, whereas today's silicon memory chips can hold their information for only a few decades.
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have smashed this tradition with a new memory storage medium that can pack thousands of times more data into one square inch of space than conventional chips and preserve this data for more than a billion years!
This video shows an iron nanoparticle shuttle moving through a carbon nanotube in the presence of a low voltage electrical current. The shuttle's position inside the tube can function as a high-density nonvolatile memory element. (Courtesy of Zettl Research Group)
"We've developed a new mechanism for digital memory storage that consists of a crystalline iron nanoparticle shuttle enclosed within the hollow of a multiwalled carbon nanotube," said physicist Alex Zettl who led this research.
"Through this combination of nanomaterials and interactions, we've created a memory device that features both ultra-high density and ultra-long lifetimes, and that can be written to and read from using the conventional voltages already available in digital electronics."
Zettl, one of the world's foremost researchers into nanoscale systems and devices, holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division (MSD) and the Physics Department at UC Berkeley, where he is the director of the Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems.
He is the principal author of a paper that has been published on-line by Nano Letters entitled: "Nanoscale Reversible Mass Transport for Archival Memory." Co-authoring the paper with Zettl were Gavi Begtrup, Will Gannett and Tom Yuzvinsky, all members of his research group, plus Vincent Crespi, a theorist at Penn State University.
The ever-growing demand for digital storage of videos, images, music and text calls for storage media that pack increasingly more data onto chips that keep shrinking in size. However, this demand runs in sharp contrast to the history of data storage.
Compare the stone carvings in the Egyptian temple of Karnak, which store approximately two bits of data per square inch but can still be read after nearly 4,000 years, to a modern DVD which can store 100 giga (billion) bits of data per square inch but will probably remain readable for no more than 30 years.
"Interestingly," said Zettl, "the Domesday Book, the great survey of England commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1086 and written on vellum, has survived over 900 years, while the 1986 BBC Domesday Project, a multimedia survey marking the 900th anniversary of the original Book, required migration from the original high-density laserdiscs within two decades because of media failure."
The illustration shows the configuration of a new digital memory storage device consisting of an iron nanoparticle shuttle that moves through a carbon nanotube when a voltage is applied. This memory device can pack a trillion bits of data into one square inch of medium and retain that data for a billion years.
Zettl and his collaborators were able to buck data storage history by creating a programmable memory system that is based on a moveable part - an iron nanoparticle, approximately 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, that in the presence of a low voltage electrical current can be shuttled back and forth inside a hollow carbon nanotube with remarkable precision.
The shuttle's position inside the tube can be read out directly via a simple measurement of electrical resistance, allowing the shuttle to function as a nonvolatile memory element with potentially hundreds of binary memory states.
"The shuttle memory has application for archival data storage with information density as high as one trillion bits per square inch and thermodynamic stability in excess of one billion years," Zettl said. "Furthermore, as the system is naturally hermetically sealed, it provides its own protection against environmental contamination."
The nanoscale electromechanical memory device can write/read data based on the position of an iron nanoparticle in a carbon nanotube. The memory devices here are displaying a binary sequence 1 0 1 1 0.
The low voltage electrical write/read capabilities of the memory element in this electromechanical device facilitates large-scale integration and should make for easy incorporation into today's silicon processing systems. Zettl believes the technology could be on the market within the next two years and its impact should be significant.
"Although truly archival storage is a global property of an entire memory system, the first requirement is that the underlying mechanism of information storage for individual bits must exhibit a persistence time much longer than the envisioned lifetime of the resulting device," he said.
"A single bit lifetime in excess of a billion years demonstrates that our system has the potential to store information reliably for any practical desired archival time scale."
The multiwalled carbon nanotube and enclosed iron nanoparticle shuttle were synthesized in a single step via pyrolysis of ferrocene in argon gas at a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius. The nanotube memory elements were then ultrasonically dispersed in isopropanol and deposited on a substrate.
A transmission electron microscope provided high-resolution imaging in real time while the memory device was in operation. In laboratory tests, this device met all the essential requirements for digital memory storage including the ability to overwrite old data.
"We believe our nanoscale electromechanical memory system presents a new solution to the challenge of ultra-high density archival data storage," Zettl said.