Antarctic Blue Whales Found With Sound


Antarctic Blue Whales Found With Sound - Whales may be the biggest animals on Earth, but finding them in the vast open ocean isn't easy.

Now, an Australia-led research team has demonstrated a novel idea for chasing down the massive marine mammals. To search for Antarctic blue whales, the group dropped sonar buoys in the Ross Sea west of Antarctica, and listened for whale calls. They triangulated the whale's location from their calls, and then sailed to the right spot.

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The blow hole of an Antarctic blue whale.

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The Amaltal Explorer is dwarfed by a tabular iceberg during the Antarctic voyage.

During the research cruise, the scientists photographed 57 blue whales, collected 23 skin biopsy samples and stuck on two satellite-tracking tags. They also spotted 11 pygmy blue whales and eight humpback whales, among a total 720 cetacean species (the group that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises).

"In many respects our expectations of what we could achieve have been exceeded," the scientists wrote on the expedition's blog.

The deep, resonating song of Antarctic blue whales travels hundreds of kilometers across the Southern Ocean, Brian Miller, of the Australian Antarctic Division and the lead marine mammal acoustician of the mission, said in a statement. The team returned with 626 hours of recordings, with 26,545 blue whale calls analyzed in real time.

The whale's satellite tags will transmit never-before obtained data on how the whales feed near the edge of the Antarctic ice, marine biologist Virginia Andrews-Goff of the Australian Marine Mammals Center said in a statement.

The International Whaling Commission estimates the population of Antarctic blue whales is between 400 and 1,400 individuals. The leviathans were slaughtered to near extinction in the early 1900s by whalers, who took some 340,000 whales, according to a statement from the Australian government.

Researchers worldwide have used acoustic technology to track whale species for decades, including blue whales, humpback whales and right whales. This is the first time that scientists have located whales for tagging and identification by identifying their positions with sonar, the statement said. ( LiveScience.com )


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Cameras Capture Tigers Trekking Through Wildlife Corridor


Cameras Capture Tigers Trekking Through Wildlife Corridor - A camera trap has captured photos of two healthy tigers using a protected corridor in the Kerala province of southwest India this year, evidence that the pathway could help populations of the endangered animals.

The first photo shows an adult male tiger in very good health that has just preyed upon a gaur, also known as an Indian bison, according to a release from the World Land Trust, which funded the creation of the protected area. The camera trap spotted another adult tiger, also in good health, earlier in the year.

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An adult male tiger photographed on March 13, 2013, in Kerala shortly after eating a gaur, an Indian bison.

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An adult tiger photographed on Jan. 5, 2013, in Kerala, southwest India.

The corridor, which is about 4 miles (6 kilometers) long and connects two adjacent wildlife reserves, was originally created to allowelephants to move between the parks. Indeed, elephants have been spotted moving through the area, as have sloth bears, leopards, barking deer and mongooses, according to the release.

"We are all very pleased to see the increased usage of the corridor by a wide range of animals, and capturing these tigers on film is very exciting," said Sandeep Kr. Tiwari, deputy director at Wildlife Trust of India.

The Thirunelli-Kudrakote corridor, as it's called, runs through a global hotspot of diversity, the World Land Trust reports. India's largest elephant population calls the corridor home, as do 10 native mammal species (including the Salim Ali's fruit bat and the Nilgiri tahr, a type of goat) and 13 endemic bird species, like the Malabar parakeet. ( LiveScience.com )


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Why the budget iPhone would throw the smartphone market into chaos


Why the budget iPhone would throw the smartphone market into chaos - The buzz around the budget iPhone has grown deafening, with new reports about the device coming out on a weekly basis. This will be a product launch with a unique impact because of two trends that define the current smartphone market. First, the overall smartphone volume growth is projected to slow down from more than 50% in the fourth quarter of 2012 to about 36% in Q4 2013. Second, the Q4 2012 growth rates of the three biggest Asian smartphone vendors have remained superheated, with Samsung (005930) at 76%, Huawei at 89% and Sony (SNE) at 56%. What made this was possible was Apple’s slowdown to 29% growth during the past Christmas season and the notably weak year-on-year numbers from Nokia (NOK), ZTE and BlackBerry (BBRY).

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If the budget iPhone really arrives this summer, it will drop smack in the middle of the tension created by slowing global smartphone volume growth and the extremely ambitious volume growth targets of the largest Asian vendors. Obviously, Sony’s momentum has now improved even more with the smash success of the Xperia Z in Europe and Asia over the past two months. Samsung is about to make a substantial volume leap with the Galaxy S 4 launch in April. It is clear that Samsung, Huawei and Sony are all gunning for 50%-plus volume growth in 2013, even as total smartphone market volume growth is slowing down to 30%.

The quarterly smartphone volumes of Nokia and Blackberry have dropped to 4 and 7 million units, respectively. The new smartphone leaders simply don’t have that much flesh left to rip from the haunches of the two fading champions. The new product lines of Nokia and BlackBerry are highly likely to stabilize their overall quarterly smartphone volumes in coming quarters close to the Q4 2012 level even if the sales are deeply disappointing. More likely, the combined Nokia and BlackBerry market share will actually climb a bit during the first three quarters of 2013. The period of making easy gains off the Nokia-BlackBerry volume dive is over.

That leaves a tough equation for the industry to deal with. The budget iPhone is likely to boost Apple’s year-on-year volume growth for the second half of 2013 to well above 40%, possibly over 50%, even if the model is priced at $350 in retail without subsidies. If it’s priced at or below $300, the volume boost could be a lot bigger. What would that mean for the rest of the field if the global smartphone volume growth continues its cooling, likely to around 30% during the second half of 2013?

Apple is in a unique position because all the other leading brands have made fairly aggressive moves to the budget category a lot earlier. Apple’s average selling price at around $650 is so high that it was initially regarded as impossible for a mass-market phone vendor back in 2007. There clearly is huge pent-up demand for a brand new iPhone retailing at below $400, particularly since the new iPhone model prices tend to top $700 in non-subsidized markets. Because non-subsidized markets make up more than 80% of the global handset markets, the budget iPhone is a big deal indeed.

A lot is now riding on the precise pricing of the cheaper iPhone: The difference between $275 and $375 in retail is fairly massive in markets like Brazil and Russia. But either sort of budget iPhone would completely reshape the Christmas season market share outlook, possibly spelling doom for a variety of mid-tier brands from HTC to LG. ( BGR News )


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China's first lady sparks homegrown fashion frenzy


China's first lady sparks homegrown fashion frenzy — New Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan's choice of attire has sparked a flurry of excitement over an independent homegrown label, an unusual phenomenon in a country where political figures are more frumpy than fashionable and wives usually shy away from the spotlight.

Images of Peng, 50, stepping off a plane arm-in-arm with her husband President Xi Jinping in Moscow on Friday have circulated widely on the Chinese Internet, prompting praise of her style as understated and sophisticated.

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Associated Press/Xinhua, Lan Hongguang - In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and his wife Peng Liyuan, second right, are welcomed by Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, second left, and his wife Salma Kikwete, right, upon their arrival in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Sunday, March 24, 2013. Glamorous new first lady Peng has emerged as a Chinese diplomatic star, charming audiences and cutting a distinct profile from her all-but-invisible predecessors on her debut official trip abroad. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Lan Hongguang) NO SALES

Eagle-eyed fashion-savvy bloggers identified the leather handbag she carried and smart, double-breasted black trench coat she wore as items designed by Guangzhou-based label Exception. The brand has been described as one of China's leading independent labels whose simple but unique designs stand out in an industry dominated by Western copycats.

"First ladies are ambassadors of the culture and the design and of the soft power of a country. I'm glad that she chose to wear Chinese and take up that role of spokesperson for Chinese design here," said Hong Huang, publisher of the fashion magazine iLook and one of the most popular microbloggers in China.

Hong said it was too early to tell if Peng's high-profile public appearance signaled that she would be playing a more significant role in Chinese politics than her predecessors, who — unlike many of their Western counterparts — have been largely unseen. "It's good that finally China has a very pretty, very beautiful first lady and she can hopefully speak up for a lot more and complement whatever Xi wants to say, in a way, like all first ladies do."

Online retailers have sought to associate their products with what news portals are terming the "Peng Liyuan style," with searches for those key words resulting in lists of handbags and trench coats, many of which did not even resemble the items she wore. Heavy online traffic to Exception's website has caused it to crash since Friday, with it loading only sporadically on Monday.

The impact Peng, a celebrated performer on state television, is having on fashion bears some similarity to trends sparked by Britain's duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, who helped bring Brazilian-born designer Issa to the world's attention before her marriage to Prince William. American first lady Michelle Obama has also lent cachet to designer Jason Wu by wearing a gown he custom-made to last month's inauguration.

For its part, Exception appears to be gauging its next move. Chinese politics is a traditionally secretive world and the company risks sparking a backlash by associating itself too publicly with the wife of the head of state.

Some of the more conservative among the Communist Party might frown upon the commercialization of the first lady's image or criticize such attention as being reflective of an excessively materialistic society.

Exception was founded in the mid-nineties by a couple who shared a love of design and the rock band The Ramones, according to Hong. Chief executive Mao Jihong, one of the co-founders, could not be reached on his cellphone. The label has expanded to become a high-end brand with nearly 100 stores and retail counters in China.

Company spokeswoman Tan Yijia, reached in the company's Guangzhou headquarters, said she could not immediately confirm that the pieces Peng wore on the trip were made by the label. The city's quality supervision bureau, however, said on its official microblog site that it has confirmed that Peng's outfit was made by Exception.

Despite Exception's public silence, commentators in China's fashion world are celebrating the attention on the label and, more significantly, the rise of the profile of a popular first lady.

"It's the first time that China's first lady appears like a modern woman. I think she dressed very well, with taste and confidence," said Zhang Yu, editor of China's Vogue magazine. "After so many years, we finally have a first lady who can represent us so appropriately. I think it is a landmark event."( Associated Press )


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Earth to Mars rover, Curiosity: Have you landed?


Earth to Mars rover, Curiosity: Have you landed? - On Sunday night, millions of miles away, a nail-biter of a landing will be executed — or not — on Mars. The Mars rover, Curiosity, which has been traveling to the distant planet for the past eight-and-a-half months, will land on the red planet by remote control.

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To stick the landing, the car-size rover must successfully slow down from 13,000 mph to zero in seven minutes, or "Seven Minutes of Terror," as the wildly popular video from NASA explains—which you can watch above.

Due to the long-distance signal from Mars to Earth, researchers won't know for an agonizing 14 minutes if the landing, programmed from Earth, is a success or an epic fail. The event has gotten so much attention that it will be broadcast live in Times Square.

During the short but tense wait, a sequence of events must fall into place for the landing of the 1,982-pound spacecraft to be successful, including using a parachute to slow it down, firing rockets to prepare for the landing, and carefully setting it in a crater to avoid a dust cloud. If all goes well, the craft will send out a signal that its landing was successful.

The Mars rover has already become somewhat of a celebrity, with its own Facebook page, and messages posted on its wall like this one from Issam Motawaj: "Very excited. We hope you will be a safe landing. Good Luck." And from Jeff Baber "I'm be watching!!! Love it!!!"

But the landing is just the beginning of what's hoped to be a two-year mission to explore signs of life on the planet. The rover, essentially a moving science lab, cost NASA $2.5 billion to build and comes equipped with 17 cameras, a 7-foot-long robot arm, and state-of-the-art science experiments and sensors weighing 125 pounds.

Bing Quock, assistant director of Morrison Planetarium at California Academy of Sciences, calls this "exciting times." He wrote in an email to Yahoo! News, "There are so many things that could go wrong, but it's not like NASA's engineers haven't thought it through. They have a way of performing the impossible, so I'll be watching the feed on the Internet that night with fingers crossed, hoping for the best. " ( The Sideshow  )


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