Friday, November 6, 2009
The opening of the tower has been delayed again until 4th of January 2010, the exact date of the four-year anniversary of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum becoming the ruler of Dubai. Emaar chairman, Mohammed Alabbar, said that "We decided to inaugurate the world's highest tower during an anniversary that is dear to the hearts of everyone".
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Cloning is the creation of an organism that is an exact genetic copy of another. This means that every single bit of DNA is the same between the two!
You might not believe it, but there are human clones among us right now. They weren't made in a lab, though: they're identical twins, created naturally. Below, we'll see how natural identical twins relate to modern cloning technologies.
How is cloning done?
You may have first heard of cloning when Dolly the Sheep showed up on the scene in 1997. Cloning technologies have been around for much longer than Dolly, though.
How does one go about making an exact genetic copy of an organism? There are a couple of ways to do this: artificial embryo twinning and somatic cell nuclear transfer. How do these processes differ?
1. Artificial Embryo Twinning
Artificial embryo twinning is the relatively low-tech version of cloning. As the name suggests, this technology mimics the natural process of creating identical twins.
In nature, twins occur just after fertilization of an egg cell by a sperm cell. In rare cases, when the resulting fertilized egg, called a zygote, tries to divide into a two-celled embryo, the two cells separate. Each cell continues dividing on its own, ultimately developing into a separate individual within the mother. Since the two cells came from the same zygote, the resulting individuals are genetically identical.
Artificial embryo twinning uses the same approach, but it occurs in a Petri dish instead of in the mother's body. This is accomplished by manually separating a very early embryo into individual cells, and then allowing each cell to divide and develop on its own. The resulting embryos are placed into a surrogate mother, where they are carried to term and delivered. Again, since all the embryos came from the same zygote, they are genetically identical.
2. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer
Somatic cell nuclear transfer, (SCNT) uses a different approach than artificial embryo twinning, but it produces the same result: an exact clone, or genetic copy, of an individual. This was the method used to create Dolly the Sheep.
What does SCNT mean? Let's take it apart:
Somatic cell: A somatic cell is any cell in the body other than the two types of reproductive cells, sperm and egg. These are also called germ cells. In mammals, every somatic cell has two complete sets of chromosomes, whereas the germ cells only have one complete set.
Nuclear: The nucleus is like the cell's brain. It's an enclosed compartment that contains all the information that cells need to form an organism. This information comes in the form of DNA. It's the differences in our DNA that make each of us unique.
Transfer: Moving an object from one place to another.
To make Dolly, researchers isolated a somatic cell from an adult female sheep. Next, they transferred the nucleus from that cell to an egg cell from which the nucleus had been removed. After a couple of chemical tweaks, the egg cell, with its new nucleus, was behaving just like a freshly fertilized zygote. It developed into an embryo, which was implanted into a surrogate mother and carried to term.
The lamb, Dolly, was an exact genetic replica of the adult female sheep that donated the somatic cell nucleus to the egg. She was the first-ever mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell.
How does SCNT differ from the natural way of making an embryo?
The fertilization of an egg by a sperm and the SCNT cloning method both result in the same thing: a dividing ball of cells, called an embryo. So what exactly is the difference between these methods?
An embryo is composed of cells that contain two complete sets of chromosomes. The difference between fertilization and SCNT lies in where those two sets originated.
In fertilization, the sperm and egg both contain one set of chromosomes. When the sperm and egg join, the resulting zygote ends up with two sets - one from the father (sperm) and one from the mother (egg).
In SCNT, the egg cell's single set of chromosomes is removed. It is replaced by the nucleus from a somatic cell, which already contains two complete sets of chromosomes. Therefore, in the resulting embryo, both sets of chromosomes come from the somatic cell.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Michael Jackson, the King of Pop and one of the most widely beloved entertainers and profoundly influential artists of all-time has died on 25/06/2009.
Paramedics were called to the home Michael was renting in Beverly Hills at about 8pm (GMT) after reports that he had stopped breathing. Just 2 hours later, at the UCLA medical centre, he was pronounced dead from a suspected heart attack.
Michael Joseph Jackson began when he was born on the 29th of August 1958 in Gary, Indiana. He was the 7th of nine children. (brothers: Sigmund "Jackie", Toriano "Tito", Jermaine, Marlon, Steven "Randy", and sisters Rebbie, Janet and La-Toya Jackson
Michael began his musical career at the age of 5 as the lead singer of the Jackson 5 who formed in 1964. In these early years the Jackson 5, Jackie, Jermaine,Tito,Marlon and lead singer Michael played local clubs and bars in Gary Indiana and moving further afield as there talents grew and they could compete in bigger competitions. From these early days Michael would be at the same clubs as big talented stars of there days, such as Jackie Wilson and would be learning from them even back then. In 1968 the Bobby Taylor and The Vancouvers discovered the Jackson five and from there they got an audition for Berry Gordy of Motown Records. The Jackson 5 signed for Motown and moved to California. Their first 4 singles, "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There" all made US No1 hits. The Jackson 5 recorded 14 albums and Michael recorded 4 solo albums with Motown.
The Jackson 5 stayed with Motown until 1976, wanting more artistic freedom they felt they had to move on and signed up with Epic. The group name Jackson 5 had to be changed as it was owned by Motown, so they reverted to The Jacksons as they had be known in the early days. Brother Jermaine married Berry Gordy's daughter and stayed with Motown. Youngest brother Randy joined in his place. The Jacksons had a number of hit recordsand in total made 6 albums between the years of 1976 and 1984.
In 1977 Michael made his first film debut when he starred in the musical 'The Wiz' playing Scarecrow with Diana Ross in the lead role of Dorothy. It was at this time Michael met Quincy Jones who was doing the score for the film.
Michael teamed up with Quincey Jones as his producer for his first solo album with Epic Records. The album titled "Off The Wall" was a big success around the world and the first ever album to release a record breaking 4 No1 singles in the US.
In 1982 Michael Jackson released the world's largest selling album of all time, 'Thriller'. This album produced 7 hit singles, breaking yet again more records, and went on to sell over 50 million copies worldwide. Michael was keen to use music video or short films as he called them to promote his singles from the album. He worked with the best directors and producers, using the latest technology and special effects.for the hit song 'Billie Jean' The short film 'Thriller' used the latest make-up artists technolgy combined with fantastic dancing and cherography, to produce a 14 minute video, with a start, a middle and an ending. So successful was this video that 'The Making Of Michael Jackson's Thriller' became the world's largest selling home video combined with soaring album sales. In 1983 Michael performed the now legendary moonwalk for the first time on the 'Motown 25 years' anniversary show. This performance alone set Michael undoubtable into the realm of a superstar.
In 1984 Michael won a record breaking 8 Grammy awards in one night. The awards were for his work on the 'Thriller' album and his work on the narrative for the 'ET Storybook'.
On December 9th 1984 at the last concert of the Jackson's Victory Tour, Michael announced he was splitting from the group and going solo.
In 1987 Michael released his much awaited third solo album, titled 'Bad', and lauched his record breaking first solo world tour. 1988, Michael wrote his first autobiography talking for the first time on his childhood and his career. At the end of the 1980s Michael was named 'Artist Of The Decade' for his success off of his 'Thriller' and 'Bad' albums.
In 1991 Michael signed with Sony Music the largest ever recording contract and released his fourth solo album, 'Dangerous'. He toured world again in 1992, taking his concerts to countries that had never before been visited by a pop/rock artist. Also Michael founded the 'Heal the World Foundation' to help improve the lives of children across the world.
In 1994 Michael married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock legend Elvis Presley. The marriage only lasted for 19 months, as they divorced in 1996.
1995 saw Michael release a fifth solo album, 'HIStory', which was a double album, first half new material and second half half greatest hits. Michael toured again over a legs covering a 2 year period. In between legs of the tour on November 14th 1996, Michael married for his second time to Debbie Rowe who was a nurse that Michael had met in the treatment of his skin pigment disorder. Together they had their first child Prince Michael Joseph Jackson jr born on February 13 1997 and a daughter Paris Michael Katherine Jackson born on April 3rd 1998. In 1997 Michael released the remix album 'Blood On The Dance Floor' which also contained 5 new song linked with a 38min film "Ghosts". This film Michael played 5 roles using the latest special effects and make-up artistry, combined with his dance and music.
In September, 2001 Michael celebrated his 30th anniversary as a solo artist with two concerts to be held in New York, USA. Many artists such as Whitney Houston, Usher, Destinys Child, Shaggy and many more performed there own and Michael Jacksons past songs. Michael then reunited with all of his brothers performed there biggest hits. Michael then went onto perform solo some of his biggest hits. In October 2001 Michael released the album 'Invincible' so far releasing only 2 singles including the big hit "You Rock My World". Since the release of this first single the album has been surrounded by rumours of a rift with Sony Music and a clear lack of promotion of the album.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The Bermuda Triangle or Devil's Triangle is an imaginary area located off the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States of America, which is noted for a supposedly high incidence of unexplained disappearances of ships and aircraft. The apexes of the triangle are generally believed to be Bermuda; Miami, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The US Board of Geographic Names does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle as an official name. The US Navy does not believe the Bermuda Triangle exists. It is reported that Lloyd's of London, the world's leading market for specialist insurance, does not charge higher premiums for vessels transiting this heavily traveled area.
The most famous US Navy losses which have occurred in the area popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle are USS Cyclops in March 1918 and the Aircraft of Flight19 in December 1945. The ship probably sank in an unexpected storm, and the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean -- no physical traces of them have ever been found. Another well known disappearance is the civilian tanker SS Marine Sulphur Queen carrying bulk molten sulfur which sank in February 1963. Although the wreck of Marine Sulphur Queen has not been located, a life preserver and other floating artifacts were recovered. These disappearances have been used to provide credence to the popular belief in the mystery and purported supernatural qualities of the "Bermuda Triangle."
Since the days of early civilization many thousands of ships have sunk and/or disappeared in waters around the world due to navigational and other human errors, storms, piracy, fires, and structural/mechanical failures. Aircraft are subject to the same problems, and many of them have crashed at sea around the globe. Often, there were no living witnesses to the sinking or crash, and hence the exact cause of the loss and the location of the lost ship or aircraft are unknown. A large number of pleasure boats travel the waters between Florida and the Bahamas. All too often, crossings are attempted with too small a boat, insufficient knowledge of the area's hazards, and a lack of good seamanship.
To see how common accidents are at sea, you can examine some of the recent accident reports of the National Transportation Safety Board for ships andaircraft. One of the aircraft accident reports concerns an in-flight engine failure and subsequent ditching of a Cessna aircraft near Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas on 13 July 2003. This is the type of accident that would likely have been attributed to mysterious causes in the Bermuda Triangle if there had been no survivors or other eyewitnesses of the crash.
A significant factor with regard to missing vessels in the Bermuda Triangle is a strong ocean current called the Gulf Stream. It is extremely swift and turbulent and can quickly erase evidence of a disaster. The weather also plays its role. Prior to the development of telegraph, radio and radar, sailors did not know a storm or hurricane was nearby until it appeared on the horizon. For example, the Continental Navy sloop Saratoga was lost off the Bahamas in such a storm with all her crew on 18 March 1781. Many other US Navy ships have been lost at sea in stroms around the world. Sudden local thunder storms and water spouts can sometimes spell disaster for mariners and air crews. Finally, the topography of the ocean floor varies from extensive shoals around the islands to some of the deepest marine trenches in the world. With the interaction of the strong currents over the many reefs the topography of the ocean bottom is in a state of flux and the development of new navigational hazards can sometimes be swift.
It has been inaccurately claimed that the Bermuda Triangle is one of the two places on earth at which a magnetic compass points towards true north. Normally a compass will point toward magnetic north. The difference between the two is known as compass variation. The amount of variation changes by as much as 60 degrees at various locations around the World. If this compass variation or error is not compensated for, navigators can find themselves far off course and in deep trouble. Although in the past this compass variation did affect the Bermuda Triangle region, due to fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field this has apparently not been the case since the nineteenth century.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of Chu Yuan (340 –278 BC), a political leader of the state of Chu.
Chu Yuan was a respected poet as well as politician of ancient China. When he lost the trust of the King and saw his home state of Chu fall into the hands of inept officials, he saw his country weakened with the ensuing invasion by its powerful neighbor. This saddened him so much that he drowned himself in the Mi-Lo River in despair.
The people of Chu rushed to rescue him, but rushed in vain. In memory of Chu Yuan's loyalty to the kingdom, and as a symbol to keep the fish away from his body, the people threw rice dumplings wrapped with bamboo leaves, called tzung-tze, into the river.
Each year, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (usually June) crews of paddlers re-enact that frantic rush to save Qu Yuan, by powering long narrow boats with the ferocious heads of dragons mounted on the prow through the water, to the frenzied, rhythmic beating of drums. It is not known how the dragon boat prow came into being, but it is thought that over the years, they were added to ward off evil water spirits. This probably arose because the combination of the 5th lunar numbers is thought to be a bad omen and dragon boat races held, at this time, would ward off evil spirits; protect the health of the people and ensure a good crop each year.
Special foods are also eaten at this time of year, including replicas of the Rice Dumplings (tzung-tze) that the fishermen threw into the Milo River, all those years ago in a desperate attempt to save Chu Yuan.