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 NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

 Posted by Aliona


Lake Vostok makes waves on the Web

A team of Russian scientists says it has unearthed the prehistoric subglacial Lake Vostok, two-and-a-half miles below sea level, opening up an ancient and possibly undiscovered world of life below the surface of the earth.

Word of the possible discovery made a splash on the Web, where a wave of searches on "lake vostok" suddenly surged.

What is it?
Lake Vostok is one of 140 subglacial lakes found under the surface of Antarctica. The overlying layer of ice could be somewhere around 400,000 years old. But the lake water below could be somewhere around 20 million years old. A team of Russian researches have been drilling since January to reach the lake. But attempts to drill down have been made since the lake was discovered in 1996.

What did the Russian scientists accomplish?
The field researchers managed to drill down through approximately 2.5 miles of ice and claim they have hit the subglacial Lake Vostok, a body of water the size of Lake Ontario. John C. Priscu, an Antarctic researcher at Montana State University, says that if the Russians have actually hit the lake, it "opens the doors for ensuing subglacial science." NASA is
also following the potential breakthrough, as the climate so far below the earth could offer insight into extraterrestrial life in outer space.

What do the scientists hope to find?
Antarctic researcher Priscu notes that the find could be nothing short of monumental, saying, "If they can confirm there is life in the lake, it will transform our view of Antarctica." He expects to find "unique organisms" in the lake. Mahlon C. Kennicutt II, a professor of oceanography at Texas A&M University who leads Antarctic research group, adds that the lakes beneath ice sheets "may contain sedimentary records of climate change that are found nowhere else on the planet."

In addition to the potential of science, a Russian news agency brought up an odd theory that the site of the discovery was also a secret Nazi base camp built in 1943. However, without more than mere talk of the base, the rumor will remain just that.

What is the meaning of the find?    
According to
National Geographic, this would be the first time anyone has penetrated a subglacial lake on the frozen continent. Kennicutt adds that looking into the past could open a window to the planet's future: "Clues to how the planet may respond to the continuing impact of humans, particularly fossil fuel emissions and related climate change, are housed in the records of past climate change in Antarctica."

 

 

 

 

Feb 8th 2012


Homes where reptiles roam

Daily baths, natural stone floors, misting nozzles, heat lamps, a cool pool, fresh greens. No, this isn't a luxury resort spa -- it’s the life of a kept reptile.

What leads some homeowners to cater to these toothy, scaly, often-maligned beasts in this way? Call it cold-blooded love, and it all comes through in the clear, simple excitement in their voices when they talk about their pet reptiles and customized living quarters.

Herpers, as those people impassioned by reptiles and amphibians are known, are a different breed, and outfitting homes as oases for exotic animal life is no simple task.

Keeping reptiles in a residential setting requires more than devotion, to be sure -- it's a science of controlled humidity and finely-tuned temperature gradients, and specialized food, vitamins and supplements. It ain’t easy.

According to the American Pet Products Association, 4.6 million U.S. households have made the effort to take care of 13 million pet reptiles as of 2011.

Making iguanas (and snakes) at home

Last summer, at his family's new home in Tucson, AZ, retired Silicon Valley electronics engineer John Binns, now founder and CEO of the International Reptile Conservation Foundation (IRCF), designed and built a 270 square-foot vivarium attached to his house to accommodate his five huge rock iguanas, a large iguana species native to the West Indies, and six green iguanas.

"If you haven't seen them before," said Binns, "they're just like dinosaurs."

The vivarium includes six indoor and five indoor/outdoor cages, an antique cast-iron claw-foot tub, skylights, and intricate temperature regulation controls to hold his iguanas. He baths them daily.

Small "doggy" doors allow the rock iguanas, which are kept in the bottom row of the stacked 2-by-2-by-4-foot cages indoors, to sun outside in a modified dog kennel built of heavy-gauge wire mesh. Sometimes, they get the run of the house and sun by Binns’s backyard pool.

It's not easy keeping large iguanas. Rock iguanas can grow to be 20 pounds or more and can live up to 60 years. After a successful career in Silicon Valley, Binns's conservation work with IRCF and owning iguanas "allow me to put something back into the earth," he said.

Actually, the cost of keeping the iguanas was what prompted the move from a five-bedroom, large-lot, upscale home near San Jose, CA, where he and his wife Sandy had been living. The utility bills were too high, he said.

Since reptiles are ectotherms -- they're dependent on their environment to regulate their internal temperature -- Binns said he was spending about $1,300 to $1,500 a month in electricity bills to power heat lamps to warm the reptiles in that Pacific Ocean-cooled locale.

In Tucson, the undiminished burning desert sun does a lot of the heating work -- his electricity bill, he said, plummeted to about $300.

Gavin Brink's collection of about 30 Latin American snakes at his 1,400-square-foot three-bedroom, 1.5-bath home in Lake Forest, IL, might not have it quite as good, luxury-wise, as Binns's iguanas did in San Jose, but their granite and marble floors and natural stone walls and ceilings don't fall far behind in style.

"I want people to go, 'Oh wow, this is cool,'" said Brink of visitors to his private collection of snakes, which includes Amazon tree boas, neotropical bird snakes, tiger rat snakes, and cribos.

In all, Brink estimates that more than one third of his house will be given over to snake habitat, or roughly 50 cages, when a basement remodel is completed. As of now, his snakes claim two of his three bedrooms and a portion of a hallway.

“This has really driven me,” said Brink. “I’ve already spent substantially more than I make, but I do it because it’s what I love.”

He already has laid down an umber-brindled marble tile floor in the basement. When done, he estimates that he will have tiled 1,000 square feet of his 1,400-square-foot home. Tile's more expensive, said Brink, but it looks good and cleans up easy.

An alligator in the tub, two in the basement 

Benton, AK, resident Jeremy Thompson, who owns a 1-year-old American alligator -- a species that is legal to own in Arkansas and many other states -- said the gator is right at home. "My girlfriend takes a bath with her sometimes," he said.

Thompson said he wouldn't try that because the alligator can be "nippy." Thompson plans to keep his new gator, unnamed as of now mainly because of her orneriness, he said, into adulthood, which could mean taking care of a 10-foot-long, 400-pound beast.

Now, he keeps his 1-foot-long lady, which he handles daily, in a 60-gallon aquarium indoors -- there is a round metal trough in the backyard, which measures 6 feet in diameter, that will allow the alligator to enjoy the sun during the summers.

Thompson said his dream is to train her (or another pet alligator), so that when she's an adult she'll be docile and friendly enough so that he can keep her in a farm pond on his property or a friend's property and go swimming with her.

Pet alligators are not as rare as you might think, said Tracy Coppola, an associate at Born Free USA, an organization that lobbies for tighter restrictions on private exotic pet ownership.

Many states allow private ownership of exotic animals; eight have no restrictions whatsoever, including Ohio, Alabama, and Nevada (view a map that shows the various exotic ownership laws by state here). Last year, Zanesville, OH, was the scene of a tragic event in which dozens of exotic animals were released from a private reserve, with law enforcement officers killing many of the animals, which included 17 lions, a tiger, bears and wolves.

When it comes to exotic animal ownership laws, "Reptiles often fall into this amorphous status," Coppola said.

Thompson said that one of the things that drew him to own an alligator, besides his fascination with their power, was that they are one of the few reptilian species that are capable of learning. 

Jim Nesci, who lives in a suburb of Chicago, said he definitely agrees that alligators can learn. He owns Bubba, an 8-foot-long, 200-pound American alligator, and Bubba's girlfriend, Cruella.

Bubba and Cruella live in Nesci's 2,700-square-foot basement-turned-reptile showroom, along with about 30 or so other animals, including a huge Aldabra tortoise, a 20-foot-long albino Burmese python, a seven-foot-long, 60-pound water monitor lizard, and others.

He runs tours through his basement; thousands of people a year make the visit.

Bubba, according to Nesci's account of him, behaves like a dog. He comes when called, is generally docile, roams the house when Nesci's at home, and obeys various commands. Nesci talks about Bubba like he's an old friend, and the tone of his voice indicates respect. "Alligators have seen the dinosaurs come and go, and that's no accident," he said.

 

 

 


Fold-up car of the future unveiled for Europe

A tiny revolutionary fold-up car designed in Spain's Basque country as the answer to urban stress and pollution was unveiled Tuesday before hitting European cities in 2013.

The "Hiriko," the Basque word for "urban," is an
electric two-seater with no doors whose motor is located in the wheels and which folds up like a child's collapsible buggy, or stroller, for easy parking.

Dreamt up by Boston's MIT-Media lab, the concept was developed by a consortium of seven small Basque firms under the name Hiriko Driving Mobility, with a prototype unveiled by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

Demonstrating for journalists, Barroso clambered in through the fold-up front windscreen of the 1.5-metre-long car.

"European ideas usually are developed in the United States. This time an American idea is being made in Europe," consortium spokesman Gorka Espiau told AFP.

Its makers are in talks with a number of European cities to assemble the tiny cars that can run 120 kilometers (75 miles) without a recharge and whose speed is electronically set to respect city limits.

They envision it as a city-owned vehicle, up for hire like the fleets of bicycles available in many European cities, or put up for sale privately at around 12,500 euros.


Several cities have shows interest, including Berlin, Barcelona, San Francisco and Hong Kong. Talks are under way with Paris, London, Boston, Dubai and Brussels.

 

 

 

The vehicle's four wheels turn at right angles to facilitate sideways parking in tight spaces.
The backers describe the "Hiriko" project as a "European social innovation initiative offering a systematic solution to major societal challenges: urban transportation, pollution and job creation."

 

 

30th Jan 2012


10 Worst clothing mistakes (made by men and women) at job interviews  

Most people expect job interviews to be stressful occasions and yet candidates often make things even more difficult for themselves by wearing the wrong clothing.  Does it really matter what you wear to a job interview? Well yes it does,  because rightly or wrongly as you walk through the door of an organisation to attend an interview, you will be judged by your appearance even before you even say hello.  Of course for the majority of jobs, appearance is secondary to what a candidate has to offer, but do not underestimate how quickly positive or negative judgements  can  be formed and consciously or subconsciously affect your chances.

Having interviewed hundreds of people in my career I have listed the ten worst clothing mistakes that I have witnessed.
 1.    Garish clothing – Some people like bright clothing or heavily patterned clothing.  I’m not suggesting that candidates shouldn’t wear bright colours to a job interview – however it’s important that the interviewer concentrates on what’s being said, rather than being distracted by a brightly coloured garment or accessory.

2.    Semi – transparent clothing – Usually the preserve of women , but not always. Bear in mind that if you have clothing that is semi-transparent or very thin, tattoos, piercings underwear may be visible.

3.    Too short clothing: Skirts that are too short are the most obvious thing to mention first.  A skirt or dress may look fine when standing, but if they are too short and a candidate forgets to pay attention, can reveal top of stockings, spanx underwear etc… , when the candidate is seated. Get a trustworthy second opinion on skirt or dress length and try sitting down and getting up from different types of chairs.

However, it is not just the skirt/dress wearers who commit sartorial faux pas. Trousers on men or women that are too short look equally bad and give the impression that a candidate has forgotten they’ve grown and needed  to buy new clothing. Tops and shirts that are too short and slip out to reveal muffin tops are another no no.

4.   Creased clothing : In this day and age with so much clothing available made of non creased fabrics – there really is no excuse for candidates  to turn up for a job interview in a garment that is creased.  Wear garments in non-creased fabric.  If you do wear a piece of clothing like a shirt that needs to be ironed, remember to iron all of it – not just the parts that are likely to show. You may find yourself in an overheated room where you need to take off a jacket.

5.    New clothing: The first thing quite a number of candidates do when they have a job interview, is decide that they have nothing to wear and rush out to buy a new outfit.  Personally this is something I have always tried to do. However, if you do decide to buy something new do it with caution. New clothing can be stiff or uncomfortable and you may find yourself  moving awkwardly.   If you do have to wear something new – make sure that you wear it at home several times before the interview day and move around in it.    

6.    Ill fitting clothing: Clothing that is too big, looks as unattractive as clothing that is too tight . Whether you have lost or gained weight, ill fitting clothing looks sloppy.  Shirt buttons that burst open revealing bare flesh is not a good look any more than wearing trousers or skirt with a waistband that slips and shows the top of a candidate’s underwear.  Believe me, I have seen this happen on many occasions.

7.   Inappropriate clothing – All too often people wear inappropriate clothing.  It’s not just some of the mistakes listed above, but some candidates wear entire outfits that are inappropriate eg turning up in casual clothing when more formal wear is expected.  If you’re not sure what type of clothing is appropriate for the type of job interview you’re attending , don’t guess, find out.

8.    New  footwear – Wearing a new pair of shoes that have not been worn in properly can spell disaster to a candidate at a job interview, especially if it is the type of interview where you are taken on a tour or have to be on your feet for a lot of the day. As the day wears on, sore feet and blisters can affect  your performance.

9.    Poor footwear – Candidates are usually engrossed in answering questions or delivering a presentation that they forget that their shoes can be on show. Scuffed shoes, soles or heels that need mending, or shoes that don’t fit properly spoil an outfit.

10.    Poor choice of accessories and/ or make-up. The list of possible errors that candidates make is endless, but include:  Distracting jewellery such as bangles that knock together every time the candidate move,  ties with cartoon characters, silly socks,  chipped nail varnish,  … Whatever accessories you choose to wear make sure that you wear the  accessories and they don’t wear you.

25th Jan 2012


9 Remodeling Tips to Make Your Home Feel Bigger   

You don't have to be underwater on your mortgage to feel trapped in your home.

Now may be a less than ideal time to put a house on the market or to take on big debt — icing your plans to trade up or build an addition anytime soon. But that doesn't mean you're stuck living in an uncomfortable home.

For a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, you can make your place "live" bigger without actually making it bigger, says architect Sarah Susanka, a small-space specialist and author of "Not So Big Remodeling."

Call it thinking inside the box; here are nine creative solutions for cramped homes.

1. Multitask the dining room ...

Cost: $500 to $2,000

If you have an eat-in kitchen, your dining room is probably used for special occasions only.

"Why have a prime spot sit vacant except for two or three holidays a year?" says Susanka.

Use it every day as an office or homework room without giving up dinner-party capabilities. Install doors ($300 to $500 each, with labor); add shelves or a cabinet for supplies; and invest in fitted pads to protect the tabletop.

For more flexibility, try a table like homedecorator.com's $629 Mission Table Cabinet, a sideboard that — amazingly — telescopes into a full-size dining table.

2. ... and the guest room

Cost: $100 to $3,000

Stop dedicating a whole room to infrequent out-of-town visitors.

With a decent air mattress,futon, or pull-out couch, you can lose the spare bed and use the room for day-to-day needs. (If you go with an air mattress, make sure to choose one with a built-in reversible motor to simplify the inflating and deflating.)

Add furniture, and what was only a guest room can double as a media or game room or home office.

3. Add a powder room

Cost: $3,000 to $6,000

Adding a first-floor powder room is simple if you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace for running the new pipes. Look for an existing room — a coat closet, say — and you won't have to build walls.

To save more, forgo the tile. The minimum space required by code is typically 2½ by 4½ feet, but you can often get an exemption to go even smaller.

4. Build a home office closet

Cost: $100 to $3,000

If your family is already bursting the seams of your abode, a home office might seem out of the question. But every household needs at least a small desk for paying bills and to anchor a wireless Internet system — and you can often fit it all in a closet or armoire.

At its simplest, all you need are five or six deep, sturdy shelves made from wood or a composite product, which can total less than $40 at a home center. In a closet, set the lowest shelf at 30 inches high so you can wheel up a chair.

5. Bring the laundry upstairs

Cost: $5,000 to $7,000

Hiking up and down the stairs with laundry is enough to make anyone wish she could trade up. Instead, just move the machines.

Today's full-size high-efficiency washers and dryers are all designed to stack. You can steal the space — a little more than four square feet — from a closet, hallway, or nook.

You'll need to run new pipes and wiring, so being near an existing bathroom helps keep costs down, says Raleigh, N.C., architect Tina Govan. Make sure to include a drain pan to collect overflows or spills.

6. Open the floor plan

Cost: $2,000 to $4,000   

A choppy layout of undersize rooms can make any house feel claustrophobic.

"People like the look of older homes, but not the way they function," says Seattle architect Thomas Lawrence.

To open your floor plan without major expense, remove doors from rooms that don't need them. Interior walls can come out for $2,000 to $4,000, unless they support the building or contain pipes — in which case a window or pass-through may be a more feasible solution.

7. Use built-ins to replace a closet

Cost: $4,500 to $6,000

If you choose to eliminate a closet to expand or enhance your living space, create some built-ins to get back the lost storage. A run of four- to 10-inch-deep shelving along a wall has almost no effect on the size of a room, says Corvallis, Ore., architect Lori Stephens.

And it can handle many times the capacity of a closet. You might spend $4,000 removing the closet and another $2,000 on new built-in cabinetry, or just $500 if you use assemble-it-yourself home-center cabinetry, such as the Billy collection from Ikea.

 

8. Build a bump-out

Cost: $6,000 to $12,000

Another trick to expand a home without a full-blown addition is called a bump-out. You hang extra space off the side of the house, sort of like an oversize bay window.

Structurally, it can't extend more than about three feet from the existing exterior wall, but it can run nearly the whole length of the building — enough space to add an eating area to your kitchen or a closet to your master bedroom suite.

Because there's no foundation work, a bump-out costs about $150 a square foot — or just $100 if you can tuck it under an existing roof overhang.

9. Finish non-living spaces

Cost: $15,000 to $30,000

Converting a full-height basement or garage into living space gets you an addition at half price. You'll need a floor, ceiling, walls and more, but no structural work, no foundation, and no roof, so it'll cost $50 to $100 a square foot — vs. about $200 for a true addition.

Attics are fair game, too, but more complicated because you may need to add a stairway and probably extend the plumbing, heating, and cooling systems a flight up. Doing all that brings the cost to around $150 a square foot.

CNNMoney.com
January 25, 2012

 Posted by Aliona

 

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