Navigating Beetles

How a beetle can use the stars to navigate its way across the vast deserts of  Africa

It might look small and insignificant but the  dung beetle has its sights set firmly on the stars.

The beetle is the first insect proven to use  the light of the Milky Way to help steer its course.

Also known as the scarab, the tiny creatures  feed on animal droppings, which they fashion into a ball and roll away to a safe  spot where it is less likely to be stolen.

Expert navigator: New research has found that scarabs - also known as dung beetles - find their way through their desert habitat by using the stars of the Milky Way as a reference
 New research has found that scarabs –  also known as dung beetles – find their way through their desert habitat by  using the stars of the Milky Way as a reference

Although their eyes are too weak to  distinguish individual constellations, scientists found they used the  glow of  the Milky Way to navigate in a straight line, ensuring they do  not circle back  to the dung-heap and potential competitors.

‘Even on clear, moonless nights, many dung  beetles still manage to orientate along straight paths,’ said Dr Marie Dacke  from Lund University in Sweden.

‘This led us to suspect that the beetles  exploit the starry sky for orientation – a feat that had, to our knowledge,  never before been demonstrated in an insect.’

Field experiments on a South African game  reserve showed that the beetles were able to roll their dung balls along  straight paths under starlit skies, but not in overcast conditions.

The lighter band of the Milky Way's edge: While unable to pick out constellations, the scarabs could detect the light arcing over their heads
The lighter band of the Milky Way’s edge: While unable  to pick out constellations, the scarabs could detect the light arcing over their  heads

For the tests, the beetles were fitted with  tiny cardboard caps to alter their field of vision.

They were placed in a circular arena  surrounded by a meter-high black cloth, making it impossible for them to see  landmarks.

With no moon, it took much less time for the  beetles to roll a dung ball from the center of the arena to the edge when they  were able to see the sky.

When they could not look up, the time taken  increased from 40 seconds to 124 as they wandered aimlessly around.

The experiment was repeated in a Johannesburg  planetarium, with similar results.

The beetles performed equally well under a  full sky of stars, and when only the glow of the Milky Way was  visible.

Most stars would be too dim for the beetles’ tiny compound eyes to see, said the researchers. While unable to pick out  constellations, the scarabs  could detect the light of the Milky Way arcing over  their heads.

‘This finding represents the first convincing  demonstration for the use of  the starry sky for orientation in insects and  provides the first  documented use of the Milky Way for orientation in the  animal kingdom,’  the researchers wrote in the journal Current  Biology.

Previously only birds, seals and humans were  known to navigate by the stars.

Dung beetles also use the sun and moon as  compass cues, said the scientists.

They added: ‘Although this is the first  description of an insect using the  Milky Way for their orientation, this  ability might turn out to be  widespread in the animal kingdom.’

Attribution: Damien Gayle, Mail Online


Montana Cracks Down on Illegals

Northern State Cracking Down on Illegal Aliens

Separated by 1200 miles and bordering Canada, one would not think that the  state of Montana would have a problem with illegal aliens. However according to  the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform, illegal aliens cost the  state of Montana about $32 million a year, which is the lowest of any state in  the nation. In today’s struggling economy $32 million is a big chunk of  change.

Since the federal government refuses to enforce all the immigration laws and  take action to protect the United States from the invasion of millions of  illegals, a number of states including Montana have found it necessary to take  action themselves.

A year ago LR  121, a measure to deny all state services to illegal aliens, was passed by a  79.5% approval of the voters. This would include all those covered under Pres.  Barack Obama’s illegal dream act which allowed 800,000 illegal aliens to remain  in the US illegally and obtain work permits, drivers’ licenses, and other state  benefits. Under LR 121 none of those illegals would be able to receive such  benefits from the state of Montana.

Continue Reading



Mickelson Retiring??

LA QUINTA, Calif. (TheBlaze/AP) — Phil Mickelson said he will make “drastic changes” because of federal and California state tax increases.

“It’s been an interesting offseason,” Mickelson said Sunday after the final round of the Humana Challenge. “And I’m going to have to make some drastic changes. I’m not going to jump the gun and do it right away, but I will be making some drastic changes.”

The 42-year-old golfer said he would talk in more detail about his plans – possibly moving away from California or even retiring from golf – before his hometown Farmers Insurance Open, the San Diego-area event that starts Thursday at Torrey Pines.

“I’m not sure what exactly, you know, I’m going to do yet,” Mickelson said. “I’ll probably talk about it more in depth next week. I’m not going to jump the gun, but there are going to be some. There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn’t work for me right now. So I’m going to have to make some changes.”  Continue Reading

Space Station Blows Up

The orbital balloon: NASA tests blow-up space-craft


A prototype inflatable module is to be tested  aboard the International Space Station to give astronauts an extra bedroom, NASA has announced.

The inflatable module  can be compressed into a 7ft tube for delivery,  and is being heralded as a key component of future exploration and the  development of commercial space travel and research.

It is designed by Bigelow Aerospace, based in  Las Vegas, which has been awarded a $17.8  million (£11m) test  project for the inflatable room – and hopes to develop  space hotels and even planetary bases using the technology.

This artist's impressions shows the Bigelow inflatable space station that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery to the International Space Station. NASA is expected to install the module by 2015This artist’s impressions shows the Bigelow inflatable  space station that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery to the  International Space Station. NASA is expected to install the module by 2015


Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow, left, and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver with a one third scale model of the inflatable room Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow, left, and  NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver with a one third scale model of the  inflatable room

Astronauts will test the ability of  the  bladder, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM,  to withstand  heat, radiation, debris and other assaults.

Some adventurous scientists might  also try  sleeping in the spare room, which is the first piece of private property to be  blasted into space, NASA said.

Lori Garver, NASA’s deputy administrator,  said as she unveiled the contract award that the inflatable module concept is  simultaneously cutting edge technology and affordable.

‘This partnership agreement for the use of  expandable habitats represents a step forward in cutting-edge technology that  can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably, and heralds important  progress in U.S. commercial space innovation,’ she said.

‘The International Space Station is a unique  laboratory that enables important discoveries that benefit humanity and vastly  increase understanding of how humans can live and work in space for long  periods.’

Part of NASA’s interest in the inflatable  technology is prompted by its potential for deep space missions.

If the module proves durable during two years  at the space station, it could open the door to habitats on the moon and  missions to Mars, Nasa engineer Glen Miller said.

The agency chose Bigelow for the contract  because it was the only company working on inflatable technology, said NASA  deputy administrator Lori Garver.

An artist's rendering of Bigelow Aerospace's balloon-like module attached to the International Space StationAn artist’s rendering of Bigelow Aerospace’s  balloon-like module attached to the International Space Station


Founder and president Robert Bigelow, who  made his fortune in the hotel industry before getting into the space business in  1999, framed the gambit as an out-of-this-world property venture.

He hopes to sell his spare-tire habitats to  scientific companies and wealthy adventurers looking for space  hotels.

NASA is expected to install the 13ft  blimp-like module in a space station port by 2015.

Mr Bigelow plans to begin selling stand-alone  space homes the next year.

The new technology provides three times as  much room as the existing aluminium models, and is also easier and less costly  to build, Mr Miller said.

Artist renderings of the module resemble a  tin-foil clown nose grafted on to the main station. It is hardly big enough to  be called a room.

Mr Miller described it as a large closet with  padded white walls and gear and gizmos strung from two central beams.

Attribution: Lewis Smith and Mark Prigg

A Confused Electorate

Americans Call for Term Limits and End to Electoral College

from: MinuteMen

Even after the 2012 election in which Americans re-elected most of the sitting members of the U.S. House and Senate — as is typical in national elections — three-quarters of Americans say that, given the opportunity, they would vote “for” term limits for members of both houses of Congress.

Americans' Support for Establishing Term Limits for Federal Lawmakers, January 2013

Republicans and independents are slightly more likely than Democrats to favor term limits; nevertheless, the vast majority of all party groups agree on the issue. Further, Gallup finds no generational differences in support for the proposal.

These findings, from Gallup Daily tracking conducted Jan. 8-9, are similar to those from 1994 to 1996 Gallup polls, in which between two-thirds and three-quarters of Americans said they would vote for a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms that members of Congress and the U.S. Senate can serve.

More Than Six in 10 Would Abolish Electoral College

Americans are nearly as open to major electoral reform when it comes to doing away with the Electoral College. Sixty-three percent would abolish this unique, but sometimes controversial, mechanism for electing presidents that was devised by the framers of the Constitution. While constitutional and statutory revisions have been made to the Electoral College since the nation’s founding, numerous efforts to abolish it over the last 200+ years have met with little success.

There is even less partisan variation in support for this proposal than there is for term limits, with between 61% and 66% of all major party groups saying they would vote to do away with the Electoral College if they could. Similarly, between 60% and 69% of all major age groups take this position.

The Common Constitutionalist adds: This is what Rush Limbaugh means by the “Low Information Voter”. I agree wholeheartedly with term limits. This is not what the founders meant by a citizen legislature; get elected, go to Washington for a term or two or three and then go home. No one should spend 20, 30, 40 years in that cesspool. Given enough time in DC, insulated from the real world, even Jesus could be corrupted.

The Electoral College, however, is  absolutely essential. Without the balance of the Electoral College system, all would have been lost decades ago. We would already be full-blown socialist, rapidly approaching despotisim. A candidate (democrat) would only have to campaign in about 12 major urban areas in the country to win a landslide victory. Any state without a major city would be avoided and the candidate need only to concentrate his or her efforts on major population centers. It would effectively lock out all small states, the midwest, the south (save a few states) and the mountain west. In other words, the northeast, the DC hub and the west coast would decide every election. Not a good plan, unless you are a radical leftist.

Friend of the Immigrant

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is in the spotlight. He’s daring to touch one of, what are becoming many third rails in American politics.

It’s not welfare reform or Social Security privatization; both are rails, which will eventually have to be touched. No, the third rail I speak of, is immigration. This is the hot issue Rubio, the son of Cuban exiles, has chosen to tackle.marcorubio

For quite some time the Democrats have owned the issue of immigration. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The issue they do own is not immigration, but illegal immigration. And they don’t just own it, they embrace it.

The Dems, with the aid of the media, pundits and spineless Republicans have successfully blurred the line between legal and illegal immigration until there is no discernible line left.

The old saying is no truer than in this case: “those who control the language, control the debate”. Such as Global Warming morphing into Climate Change or more recently; gun control, which, right under our noses,  has just been renamed. It is now gun violence, because who could possibly be opposed to ending gun violence. When illegal immigrants are magically reclassified as just immigrants or effectively citizens that are merely undocumented, those of us that insist on the distinction have lost or at least Illegal signbeen relegated to the back of the bus.

Enter the so-called conservative rising star – Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio, the young, photogenic Republican is a rising star in the party. As Joe Biden might say, he’s clean and articulate. Best of all, he’s Hispanic. Hooray, a Republican that is not a white guy! Why that makes any difference is beyond me, but apparently it does.

I don’t know whether he’s trying to “get out front” on this issue because he is of Cuban heritage or he, like many Republicans, simply feels he must.

I do know the Republicans will lose on the issue of illegal immigration. They will lose because the GOP is becoming the Democrat-lite party. The Republicans don’t seem to grasp that they cannot win a giveaway contest vs. a party full of socialists, the Democrats.

Now Rubio has said some good things, such as “Legal immigration has been, for ourmarco-rubio1 country, one of the things that makes us vibrant and exceptional”. I agree with that statement. Any reasonable person would. Another strong statement: “Every country in the world has immigration laws and expects to enforce them and we should be no different”. Who wouldn’t agree with that? Evidently most people, or at least most politicians, for we don’t, in fact, enforce the thousands of immigration laws we have now.

He continues: “I’m a big believer in family-based immigration. But I don’t think that in the 21st century we can continue to have an immigration system were only 6.5% of people who come here, come here based on labor and skill. We have to move toward marriage and skill-based immigration.” I agree with the merit and skill-based immigration statement. The family based nonsense sounds like liberal claptrap.

He then exclaims, “I don’t think there’s a lot of concern in this country that we’ll somehow get overrun by PhD’s and entrepreneurs.” Too bad, but he’s right.

Rubio then takes the inevitable turn toward the squishy left of the Republican Party, as he weighs in on agriculture. “The goal is to give American agriculture a reliable workforce and to give protection to those workers. When someone is undocumented they’re vulnerable to being exploited.”

illegalThis is exactly what I meant by the language. Illegal aliens are now simply undocumented. I also disagree with the statement. These people came to our country illegally. They have no right to ask nor do we have any obligation to protect them.

And what does Rubio propose to do about the 12 to 20 million illegals currently residing in our country? He says, “Here’s how I envision it. They would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check. Anyone who committed a serious crime would be deported. They would be fingerprinted. They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove that they’ve been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country.”

And predictably, Republican lawmakers say that Rubio’s plan could pass muster, even with immigration hard-liners, if the plan included a significant restitution for illegals to pay and began taxing them for their work here.

And… Rubio and the Republicans lost me. Whatever conservative statements he uttered prior, was all just washed away.

This softened, kinder gentler stance will be just another nail in the coffin of theGOP-and-Dem-Lite1 Republican Party. They will not win a single coveted Hispanic vote and in turn will lose more of the conservative base that already believes the Republicans untrustworthy. This is a political stunt. It will never work – the Democrats will never allow the GOP to achieve even the impression of success. Republican lawmakers have shown once again they are sellouts.

In fact, what will more likely happen, is something akin to compromising on the budget where taxes are increased and more money borrowed now, with the promise of tax cuts later that never materialize. Republicans are chumps and so is Rubio for proposing this.

Rubio has lost me. I may be alone on this, but I’ve stated I will never support anyone who is willing to, in any way, legalize or reward criminal aliens.

Pay – Per – Mile

New pay-per-mile scheme would boost taxes 250 percent

An on-again, off-again move by the Obama administration to scrap the federal gas tax in favor of a pay-per-mile fee would boost the tab to Americans as high as 250 percent, raising their current tax of 18.4 cents a gallon to as high as 46 cents, according to a new government study.

But without a tax increase, said the Government Accountability Office study, the government’s highway fund is going to go dry. One reason the fund is going broke: President Obama’s push for fuel efficient cars has resulted in better mileage, and fewer stops at the pump.  Continue Reading

Slice of Paradise

Are you searching for a bit of quiet time after a busy holiday season?

If so, an uninhabited island in Florida’s  Intracoastal Waterway could be yours on Ebay for just $460,000.

Emilio Cirelli, the current owner of the  private land in the Halifax River, just off the coast of the city of Port Orange  has put the deeds on Ebay with no strings attached.

Tranquil: This little bit of Florida could be yours for just $460,000Tranquil: This little bit of Florida could be yours for just $460,000
Location, location, location: The island is situated in a river, close to the beach
Location, location, location: The island is situated in a river, close to the beach
Potential: The interior of the island is ready to be built on
The interior of the island is ready to be built on

As reported in the Orlando  Sentinel,  Cirelli acquired the land in Volusia County after a previous owner defaulted on  property taxes.

Now Cirelli says he can’t afford to build on  the land so has put the three-acre uninhabited property on the auction website. But at the time of writing there hasn’t been too much interest.

The advantages of the plot are obvious. A  prime waterside plot, with no neighbors, the island was created as the Halifax River has been dredged.

Cirelli claims the land is ready for development and the Ebay listing is full of promising details. But be quick, there are only a few hours of the auction left.

Picturesque: Watch the boats go by from your own private island
 Watch the boats go by from your own private  island
The land is close to Port Orange and some famous Florida beaches
The land is close to Port Orange and some famous Florida  beaches

The private island is 2 miles south of Dunlawton Bridge and the land is only accessible from the river.

As the Ebay page states: ‘Islands are unique  properties as 97% are government owned, not in private ownership, and typically priced over $1,000,000.’

No back taxes are due and a down payment of  just $25,000 is required. Cash, money order or certified funds will be accepted. Only Paypal is not  welcome.

Cirelli also claims that the island is close to some of the nicest beaches on the eastern seaboard.

Though there are some downsides to the secluded private island. Everything has to be taken to the property by barge and there are no power facilities.

The new owner would need to seek permission from local government to build anything there, and the highest point is only five feet above sea level.

Most island properties sell for over $1,000,000 but this one is less than half that price
Most island properties sell for over $1,000,000 but this  one is less than half that price
There are uninterrupted views of the Intercoastal Waterway
There are uninterrupted views of the Intercoastal  Waterway

Attribution: Daily Mail

Impact Protection

An orange goo that looks like the children’s toy silly putty seems an unlikely material to protect valuable technology products.

Yet this strange  gel, also known as D3O, behaves very differently under sudden impact, as the molecules of this ‘non-Newtonian polymer’ lock together, immediately dissipating the force of a blow.

These characteristics make the goo an ideal product for a variety of protective purposes and it is now being used by a  British company in protecting cell phones and computers.

Scroll down  for video

Magic goo: When the material is touched gently it is soft and malleableMagic goo: When the material is touched gently it is  soft and malleable
Shock absorber: When the slime is hit violently with a mallet it dissipates the impact and protects the man's handShock absorber: When the slime is hit violently with a  mallet it dissipates the impact and protects the man’s hand

Popsci  encountered the product at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show  (CES), a four-day event which finished on Friday in Las Vegas.

A representative from London-based  company Tech  21 toyed with and then wrapped his hand in the slimy gel.

The man then whacked his fingers several  times with a large mallet with no ill-effect, proving the incredible properties  of D3O.

The patented gel was invented by British scientist Richard Palmer after a skiing accident in 1999.

Gloop: When not under stress, D3O is stretchy and slimyGloop: When not under stress, D3O is stretchy and  slimy
The unique properties of the material mean it has been used in many types of shock protectionThe unique properties of the material mean it has been  used in many types of shock protection

It is a non-Newtonian fluid – one whose viscosity differs from the Newtonian model that is  followed by liquids such as water and gasoline.

Since Palmer and his team completed development of D3O in 2005, it has been used in a number of wyas impact protection, from winter sports clothing to use on the battlefield.

Tech 21 describe their field as ‘impactology’ – the ‘science of protection’ and they are now using the intelligent gloop in  protective cases for technology products, such as phones and  computers.

In 2009, a different company company won a £100,000 contract from the UK Ministry of Defence to develop the shock-absorbing gel in helmets for British troops fighting on the frontline in Afghanistan.

Now the material is used in motorcycle and sports equipment, personal protection, footwear and safeguarding  electronics.

Silly putty is also a non-Newtonian fluid, but not as useful in a combat situation Silly putty is also a non-Newtonian fluid, but not as  useful in a combat situation

Attribution: Daily Mail