Thursday, November 8, 2007

November 2007 Winners- Floyds Best Bloggers Award

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In The Blogosphere there are Bloggers that shine a little brighter, always helping others, using kind voices to enrich this Beautiful World we share. Each of these Winners deserves to be applauded by their peers! Thank All of You for Your Amazing contributions to the International Blogging Community!

And the Winners for November 2007 Are:

From MyBlogLog

TNT-Computer TNT (Tips and Tricks)

JJL-Nature Shows and Dreams

Renato d'Oxaguia

oylinki-News, Tips and Information Blog

PetLvr-Battling Depression

From BlogCatalog:

Sn0wTigressJ0-The Laidback Buddhist

purpleladycentre - ART FROM THE HEART

luckyme -Pick Your Potion

urikalish -Urikalization

LadyBanana-Lady Banana

From Blogging to Fame

Deborah Petersen-Life in the Fast Lane

KIM BARKER-laketrees

I have Saved the Best for Last! You have to see this to believe it!:

Cosmic Photo Art

Congratulations to all the Winners!

If you are a winner, copy the Blue Ribbon to your site and Link it to this Post!

You have been hand picked as the Cream of the Crop by:

Floyd Craig and William Thomas

Previous Winners From BumpZee Are:
Previous Winners From MyBlogLog are:
Previous Winners From BlogCatalog Are:
Lynda Lehmann
Reasonable Robinson

Previous Winners (Sept. 2007):

Previous Winners From BumpZee Are:


Previous Winners From MyBlogLog are:Shinade





Previous Winners From BlogCatalog Are:






Thursday, November 1, 2007

"Green" WordPress Blogs Up For Grabs-Support Conservation

In order to fund our continuing efforts to Educate and Promote Conservation of our Beautiful Planet, Two WordPress Blogs Have been created and will be auctioned off to the Highest Bidder! This is your chance to own a Beautiful "Green" Blog and to support us as we continue our work! We need Sponsors and Benefactors!

The Blogs are: The Coral Reefs
You can buy it Here:
EBay Item number: 260177522689

The Second New WordPress Blog for sale:
Natural World Site
You can buy it here:
EBay Item number: 260177170410

starting bids are 25.00 (costs of domain name and ebay ad)
Please dig deep and support our work!
Floyd Craig and William Thomas

You can also help by making a small donation here:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Google tools to power virtual worlds

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By Daniel Terdiman, Published on ZDNet News: Oct 9, 2007

Get ready for online games set in your favorite Google Earth locations.
Virtual-worlds platform developer Multiverse Network is set to announce a partnership Tuesday that will allow anyone to create a new online interactive 3D environment with just about any model from Google's online repository of 3D models, its 3D Warehouse, as well as terrain from Google Earth.
The idea is simple: Multiverse's technology--which gives game developers tools to design custom virtual worlds--will let those designers pick and choose from most of the millions of 3D models created using Google's 3D software tool SketchUp, and to import pieces of terrain, as defined by entering specific longitude and latitude data, from Google Earth.
If you want to build a virtual world centered on, say, downtown San Francisco, you could use the new technology to create the area itself and populate it with the digital versions of real-world buildings that have been created and uploaded to the 3D Warehouse.
"The goal is to grab things from the 3D Warehouse when looking at things in Google Earth and then make an instant multiverse world," said Multiverse co-founder Corey Bridges. "What we've done is provide a more streamlined interface for using (Google's technology) as a virtual-world production tool."
Until now, incorporating this kind of information from Google has mostly been the province of fantasy. For some time, Multiverse has made it possible to upload some SketchUp models into a virtual world created using its platform. But the technology the company plans to announce Tuesday, informally called "Architectural Wonders," brings the concept to much more well-rounded fruition, and answers what some people have been crying out for as obvious and necessary technology integration.
"Google's mission statement is to make all the world's information universally available and useful," said Jerry Paffendorf, co-author of the Metaverse Roadmap and co-founder of a stealth start-up called Wello Horld. "So I would say this (is about) making all the world universally available and useful, and that's why this is so fascinating."
For Paffendorf, one of the most vocal proponents of a 3D massively multiplayer environment based on Google Earth and SketchUp information, Multiverse's innovation is nothing short of groundbreaking.
He said he's particularly excited and hopeful that the Architectural Wonders project will allow virtual-world designers to incorporate not just models and terrain from Google Earth, but also much of the metadata that makes it so powerful: the personal notations and photographs that millions of users have added to it.
Of course, Multiverse's project is not the only one that has sprung up to make use of this data. Google is rumored to be working on a prototype virtual world, a beta test of which may or may not be under way at Arizona State University.
Another project is SceneCaster, a new technology unveiled at last week's Demo conference that allows anyone to make 3D "scenes" incorporating models from the 3D Warehouse that can then be attached to blogs or Facebook pages or even to Flickr.
Both SceneCaster and Multiverse's Architectural Wonders projects will be shown at the Virtual Worlds conference, which starts Wednesday in San Jose, Calif.
But because not much is known about Google's stealth project and since SceneCaster does not appear to be a massively multiplayer experience, Multiverse's Architectural Wonders efforts may well prove to be the first publicly available attempt to bring vast amounts of data and models Google is making freely accessible into a working virtual world.
For now, the technology is in its very early iterations. A demonstration seen exclusively last week by CNET revealed what is still fairly rudimentary technology, featuring a single avatar wandering around a largely barren terrain. However, as the avatar moved, it eventually arrived in an area where it was able to move easily among models of structures like the Empire State Building, the St. Louis arch and Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers.
Multiverse also showed its tool for selecting terrain grabbed from Google Earth. It appears to be a simple design that will make it easy for designers creating virtual worlds using Multiverse's platform to quickly enter geographic data and then to import whatever territory is defined directly into their new 3D environment.
Multiverse's technology has reached the point where it can support as many as 1,000 users per server, meaning any virtual world built using its platform and incorporating the Google Earth and 3D Warehouse models could see hundreds or even thousands of users running around inside it.
And while some might wonder why anyone would want to spend time in a virtual New York when they could be in the real place, Paffendorf, who lives in Brooklyn, has an answer.
"Simply put, if you're not there, you don't have that option," he said. "I would go exploring Brooklyn like that, for sure, to see what I'm missing."

Biologists Close In On Mystery Of Sea Turtles' 'Lost Years'

  • Closeup of a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).
  • (Credit: iStockphoto/Rainer Schmittchen)

Science Daily — Biologists have found a major clue in a 50-year-old mystery about what happens to green sea turtles after they crawl out of their sandy nests and vanish into the surf, only to reappear several years later relatively close to shore.

In a paper set to appear Wednesday in the online edition of the journal Biology Letters, three University of Florida sea turtle scientists say they found the clue by analyzing chemical elements ingrained in the turtles’ shells.
Their conclusion: The turtles spend their first three to five “lost years” in the open ocean, feeding on jellyfish and other creatures as carnivores. Only after this period do they move closer to shore and switch to a vegetarian diet of sea grass – the period in their lives when they have long been observed and studied.
“This has been a really intriguing and embarrassing problem for sea turtle biologists, because so many green turtle hatchlings enter the ocean, and we haven’t known where they go,” said Karen Bjorndal, a professor of zoology and director of UF’s Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research. “Now, while I can’t go to a map and point at the spot, at least we know their habitats and diets, and that will guide us where to look.”
The discovery is important not only because it’s a first, but also because it may aid in conservation of the turtles -- which, like all sea turtles, are classified as endangered. “You can’t protect something,” said Bjorndal, “if you don’t know where it is.”
The paper’s lead author is Kimberly Reich, a UF doctoral student in zoology who did the work as part of her dissertation research. The other authors are Bjorndal and Alan Bolten, a faculty member in zoology and associate director of the sea turtle center.
Famed sea turtle biologist Archie Carr first discussed the mystery of the green sea turtles’ “lost years” in his 1952 book, “The Handbook of Turtles.” Half-dollar sized hatchlings trundle off subtropical and tropical beaches worldwide, then vanish, only to reappear, dinner-plate-sized, over continental shelves in depths of less than 650 feet. Only a tiny number of green turtles between the half-dollar and plate-sizes have ever been spotted.
To solve the problem, Reich, Bjorndal and Bolten turned not to scouring the ocean but rather to a technique that over the past two decades has become increasingly important in questions related to ecological origin: stable isotope analysis.
The higher an animal on the food chain, the more heavy isotopes it accumulates. As a result, the technique, which measures the ratios of heavy to light isotopes, can distinguish samples from herbivorous versus carnivorous creatures and where on the food chain they lie.
The researchers captured 44 turtles off a long-term study site near Great Inagua in the Bahamas. The sample included 28 that had been tagged in previous years, indicating they were residents of the site, and 16 untagged turtles assumed to have recently arrived.
They cut off tiny pieces near the center of the turtles’ shells in a harmless process that Bjorndal likened to trimming one’s fingernails. The biologists used a mass spectrometer, a machine that separates isotopes according to charge and mass, to analyze the oldest, or earliest-grown, portions of the shell sample versus the newest portions.
The analysis revealed that with the new arrivals to the site, the ratio of light to heavy nitrogen isotopes in the older versus new shell samples was “significantly different,” as the paper said. The ratios were very similar to ratios observed in oceanic-stage loggerhead turtles known to be carnivorous. For these reasons, among others, the researchers concluded the turtles spend their first three to five years in the open ocean.
Green turtles nest on subtropical and tropical beaches worldwide. That suggests the young turtles are widely distributed in the oceans during their oceanic stage, but Bjorndal said further study is required to confirm that.
Green turtles are the ocean’s largest hard-shelled turtle, with only soft-shelled leatherbacks eclipsing their size. They were heavily exploited for food by native peoples and then by explorers and colonists who prized the animals for remaining alive and fresh for months on ships. Although they were among the first animals listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973, they and their eggs continue to be hunted in much of their range today.
Said Bjorndal, “Anything that helps us discover geographically where they are is going to stand us in good stead to be able to protect them.”
Note: This story has been adapted from material provided by University of Florida.

Elephants' Fear Of Angry Bees Could Help To Protect Them

Science Daily — At a time when encroaching human development in former wildlife areas has compressed African elephants into ever smaller home ranges and increased levels of human-elephant conflict, a study in Current Biology, suggests that strategically placed beehives might offer a low-tech elephant deterrent and conservation measure.

The researchers found that a significant majority of African elephants fled immediately after hearing the sound of bees, providing "strong support" for the idea that bees, and perhaps even their buzz alone, might keep elephants at bay. By contrast, the elephants ignored a control recording of natural white-noise, the authors reported.
"We weren't surprised that they responded to the threatening sound of disturbed bees, as elephants are intelligent animals that are intimately aware of their surroundings, but we were surprised at how quickly they responded to the sounds by running away," said Lucy King of the University of Oxford. "Almost half of our study herds started to move away within 10 seconds of the bee playback." King is also affiliated with Save the Elephants, a Kenya-based organization that aims to secure a future for elephants.
Earlier studies had suggested that elephants prefer to steer clear of bees. For instance, one report showed that elephant damage to acacia trees hosting occupied or empty beehives was significantly less than in trees without hives, the researchers said. In Zimbabwe, scientists have also seen elephants forging new trails in an effort to avoid beehives.
In the new study, the researchers tested the response of several well-known elephant families in Kenya to the digitally recorded buzz of disturbed African bees. Sixteen of the 17 families tested left their resting places under trees within 80 s of hearing the bee sound, the researchers reported, and half responded within just 10 seconds. Among elephants hearing the control sound, none had moved after 10 s, and only four families had moved after 80 s. By the end of the 4 min sound playback of bee buzz, only one elephant family had failed to move, whereas eight families hearing the control sound had not moved.
This behavioral discovery suggests that bees might very well be a valuable addition to the toolbox of elephant deterrents used by farmers and conservation managers across Kenya, King said. She added that such innovative approaches are sorely needed "to avoid extreme solutions such as shooting problem animals."
She cautioned that the use of beehives to shoo elephants away might prove to have limited application and that more research is needed if we are to understand its effectiveness. "But if we could use bees to reduce elephant crop raiding and tree destruction while at the same time enhancing local income through the sale of honey, this could be a significant and valuable step towards sustainable human-elephant coexistence."
The researchers include Lucy E. King of the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford in Oxford and Save the Elephants in Nairobi; Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants in Nairobi; and Fritz Vollrath of the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford in Oxford and Save the Elephants in Nairobi.
This work was supported by ESRC/NERC, The Wingate Foundation and Save the Elephants.
King et al.: "African elephants run from the sound of disturbed bees." Publishing in Current Biology 17, R832-R833, October 9, 2007.
Note: This story has been adapted from material provided by Cell Press.

Scientists 'Weigh' Tiny Galaxy Halfway Across Universe

Science Daily — A tiny galaxy, nearly halfway across the universe, the smallest in size and mass known to exist at that distance, has been identified by an international team of scientists led by two from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The scientists used data collected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. This galaxy is about half the size, and approximately one-tenth the "weight" of the smallest distant galaxies typically observed, and it is 100 times lighter than our own Milky Way.
"Even though this galaxy is more than six billion light years away, the reconstructed image is as sharp as the ordinary ground-based images of the nearest structure of galaxies, the Virgo cluster, which is 100 times closer to us," said lead author Phil Marshall, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Barbara.
Second author Tommaso Treu, assistant professor of physics at UCSB, explained that the imaging is made possible by the fact that the newly discovered galaxy is positioned behind a massive galaxy, creating an "Einstein ring." The matter distribution in the foreground bends the light rays in much the same way a magnifying glass does. By focusing the light rays, this gravitational lensing effect increases the apparent brightness and size of the background galaxy by more than a factor of 10.
Treu and his colleagues in the Sloan Lens ACS Survey (SLACS) collaboration are at the forefront of the study of Einstein ring gravitational lenses. With gravitational lensing, light from distant galaxies is deflected on its way to Earth by the gravitational field of any massive object that lies in the way. Because the light bends, the galaxy is distorted into an arc or multiple separate images. When both galaxies are exactly lined up, the light forms a bull's-eye pattern, called an Einstein ring, around the foreground galaxy.
The mass estimate for the galaxy, and the inference that many of its stars have only recently formed, is made possible by the combination of optical and near infrared images from the Hubble Space Telescope with longer wavelength images obtained with the Keck Telescope. "If the galaxy is representative of a larger population, it could be one of the building blocks of today's spiral galaxies, or perhaps a progenitor of modern dwarf galaxies," said Treu. "It does look remarkably similar to the smallest galaxies in the Virgo cluster, but is almost half the way across the universe."
Another key aspect of the research is the use of "laser guide star adaptive optics." Adaptive optics systems use bright stars in the field of view to measure the Earth's atmospheric blurring and correct for it in real time. This technique relies on having a bright star in the image as well, so it is limited to a small fraction of the night sky.
The laser guide star adaptive optics system in place at the Keck Telescope uses a powerful laser to illuminate the layer of sodium atoms that exist in the Earth's atmosphere, explained Jason Melbourne, a team member from the Center for Adaptive Optics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The laser image acts as an artificial star, bright enough to perform adaptive optics correction at an arbitrary position in the sky, thus enabling much sharper imaging over most of the sky.
Marshall's postdoctoral fellowship research is funded by the TABASGO Foundation through UCSB. Treu's research is supported by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation.
Other researchers involved in the project are: Raphael Gavazzi of UC Santa Barbara; Kevin Bundy of the University of Toronto; S. Mark Ammons of Lick Observatory and the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Adam S. Bolton of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii; Scott Burles of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; James Larkin of the University of California, Los Angeles; David Le Mignant of the W. M. Keck Observatory and CfAO at UC Santa Cruz; David C. Koo of the Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz; Leon V.E. Koopmans of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, the Netherlands; Claire E. Max of the Lick Observatory and CfAO at UC Santa Cruz; Leonidas A. Moustakas of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology; Eric Steinbring of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, National Research Council of Canada; and Shelly A. Wright of UCLA.
The findings will be published in the December 20, 2007 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
Note: This story has been adapted from material provided by University of California, Santa Barbara.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Happy Weekend

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Star Cluster Bursts into Life in New Hubble Image

Thousands of sparkling young stars are nestled within the giant nebula NGC 3603. This stellar "jewel box" is one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. NGC 3603 is a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way, about 20,000 light-years away. This latest image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a young star cluster surrounded by a vast region of dust and gas. The image reveals stages in the life cycle of stars.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Floyds Best Blog Awards- October 2007 Winners

Beginning September 1st,2007 Floyds Free Money will review your blogs and Post Winners each Month.
If you would like your blog reviewed, post the link in comments.

The awards are not based on blog design, but on the spirit of the Blogger .

Congratulations to Floyds Best Blog Award Winners.
Message to the Winners:
Each of You were carefully chosen. Each of you Deserves to be Recognized by your peers for Your Bright Shining Spirit and Your Outstanding contribution to the International Blogging Community.
If You are selected, copy the Blue Ribbon and place it on your site. Link it to the post announcing your win, so that your friends can see the announcement.
use this link (not required) to link your blue ribbon to the announcement post:
October 2007- Floyds Best Blog Winners:
You have been hand picked as the Cream of the Crop by:
Floyd Craig and William Thomas
And The Winners From BumpZee Are:
And The Winners From MyBlogLog are:

The Winners From BlogCatalog Are:

Last Months Winners (Sept. 2007):
Winners From BumpZee Are:

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Blogging For Burma-A Call To Action

This is a call to all Bloggers Everywhere to use Your Voice and Blog For Burma. Please place a post on your Blogs, Sites,Forums. Stop Killing Buddist Monks and Free Burma. Together we CAN make a difference. Blog For Burma and speak out about this horrific injustice. No Matter what Religion you are or What Country You Live in, Blog For Burma.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blogging For Burma-Bloggers Unite to Help Burma

I am so touched by the plight of the Burmese that I have created a new Blog. You are all invited to participate by posting articles on your blogs, Sites, Forums, etc. and then provide the links to your post in comments or on the cbox on the new Blog "Blogging For Burma"

click here to see Blogging For Burma

Note-Some of the most beautiful Ancient Wonders on the Planet are Located in Myanmar(Burma). If the Buddist Monks are being killed along with other civilians, what do you think will happen to the Monuments and Treasures there?

Burma (Myanmar) Pray For Burma-Myanmar protests falter after crackdown

Pray With Us that Burma will stop killing Monks.
"I don't think that we have any more hope to win," said a young woman who took part in a massive demonstration Thursday in Yangon that was broken up when troops opened fire on the crowd. She was separated from her boyfriend and has not seen him since.
"The monks are the ones who give us courage," she said, referring to the clergymen who have been the backbone of rallies — both those of this week and in past years. Most are now besieged in their monasteries, penned in by locked gates and barbed wire surrounding the compounds.
Images of bloodied protesters and fleeing crowds have riveted world attention, raising fears of a repeat of a 1988 democracy uprising that saw an estimated 3,000 protesters slain.
The United States urged "all civilized nations" to press Myanmar's leaders to end the crackdown, which has also resulted in hundreds of arrests. Win Mya Mya, an outspoken member of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, was among those seized overnight, according to family members.
Authorities have also gone after the Internet, which has played a crucial role in getting news and images of the democracy protests to residents and the outside world alike. Few foreign journalists have been permitted to operate and media freedom is severely restricted.
"They don't want the world to see what is going on there," Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the U.S. government, told reporters in Washington.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Top 10 Largest Diamonds in the World-Photos

Cullinan I - also known as The Star of Africa was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, owner of the mining company, and currently claims the title of largest cut diamond in the world. Of all the worlds largest diamonds Cullinan I is the largest. It was cut by Asscher in Amsterdam, weighs 530.20 carats, and has 74 facets. The Cullinan now resides in the Tower of London and is set in the sceptre of King Edward VII.

The Excelsior *which means higher* is not only one of the worlds largest diamonds it is the second largest diamond ever found. It originally weighed 995.2 carats. The diamond was cut into ten pieces, the three largest weighing 158, 147 and 130 carats. These pieces were then cut into 21 gems ranging from 70 carats to less than 1 carat. An African mine worker found the diamond as he was loading his truck, he kept the find secret until he could safely turn it over to the mine manager who rewarded him with some money, a horse and a saddle.

Orloff - the worlds third largest cut diamond weighs 194 carats. It was once one of the eyes of the idol Sheringham, in the temple of Brahma, later it was acquired by the Shah Nadir who desired to own one of the worlds largest diamonds. In 1775 it was given to Catherine II. of Russia by Grigori Orloff, one of her ex-lovers, and has been called the Orloff since then.

The Great Mogul is one of the worlds largest diamonds. The rough diamond was discovered in the 17th century, weighed 793 carats and was named after Shah Jehan... builder of the Taj Mahal.

The Premier Rose became one of the worlds largest diamonds when it was discovered in 1978. The diamond weighed 353.9 carats and was cut into three diamonds known as the Premier Rose family. All of them qualify to be one of the worlds largest diamonds. The largest of the three kept the name Premier Rose and now weighs 137.02 carats, is cut with 189 facets, and is the second largest pear shaped diamond in the world. It was sold in 1979 for $10,000,000.00.

The Premier Rose became one of the worlds largest diamonds when it was discovered in 1978. The diamond weighed 353.9 carats and was cut into three diamonds known as the Premier Rose family. All of them qualify to be one of the worlds largest diamonds. The largest of the three kept the name Premier Rose and now weighs 137.02 carats, is cut with 189 facets, and is the second largest pear shaped diamond in the world. It was sold in 1979 for $10,000,000.00.

The Regent another of the worlds largest diamonds was discovered in 1701 by an Indian slave near Golconda, it weighed 410 carats in the rough. Once owned by William Pitt, the English Prime Minister, it was cut into a cushion shaped brilliant of 140.50 carats and, until it was sold to the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France when Louis XV was a boy in 1717, was called The Pitt. It was then renamed The Regent and set in the crown Louis XV wore at his coronation. After the French revolution, it was owned by Napoleon Bonaparte who set it in the hilt of his sword. It is now on display in the Louvre as one of the worlds largest diamonds.

The Blue Hope another of the worlds largest diamonds was once owned by Louis XIV and officially designated the *blue diamond of the crown*. It was stolen during the French Revolution but showed up again in 1830 and was bought by Henry Philip Hope of London, the diamond was named after the new owner. The Blue Hope Diamond is believed to carry a curse, two of the owners had their entire family die just one year apart. It now resides in the Smithsonian in Washington where it is recognized as one of the worlds largest diamonds.

The Sancy is named after one of its owners Seigneur de Sancy, a French Ambassador to Turkey in the late 16th century. It was first owned by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who lost it in battle in 1477. He loaned it to the French king, Henry III, who wore it in the cap with which he concealed his baldness. Henry IV of France also borrowed the stone from Sancy, but it was sold in 1664 to James I of England. In 1688, James II, King of England, fled with it to Paris and it has never been found since. The Sancy weighed 55 carats making it one of the smallest of the worlds largest diamonds.

The Taylor-Burton diamond was found in the Premier mine in 1966, the rough stone weighed 240.80 carats. The famous diamond was purchased by Harry Winston who commissioned the stone cleaved into two pieces, the larger piece weighed 162 carats and was eventually cut into a pear shaped 69.42 carat diamond. It was later auctioned for $1,050,000 and named the "Cartier". The diamond was then purchased by Richard Burton and given to Elizabeth Taylor and renamed the Taylor-Burton. In 1978, following her divorce from Richard Burton, Elizabeth put one of the worlds largest diamonds up for sale to raise funds for a hospital in Botswana. The current owner is Robert Mouawad, President of the Mouawad Group.

NOTE***There may be some larger uncut diamonds, but these are the most beautiful and the Most Famous!

Pagodas of Burma

Burma was unified by Burman dynasties three times during the past millennium. The first such unification came with the rise of the Bagan (Pagan) Dynasty in 1044 AD, which is considered the "Golden Age" in Burmese history. During this period, Theravada Buddhism first made its appearance in Burma, and the Bagan kings built a massive city with thousands of pagodas and monasteries along the Irrawaddy River. The Bagan Dynasty lasted until 1287 .
The origins of Shwedagon are lost in antiquity, its age unknown. Long before the pagoda was built, its location on Singuttara hill was already an ancient sacred site because of the buried relics of the three previous Buddhas. According to one legend, nearly 5000 years had passed since the last Buddha walked the Earth, and Singuttara hill would soon lose its blessedness unless it was reconsecrated with relics of a new Buddha. In order that such new relics might be obtained, King Okkalapa of Suvannabhumi spent much time atop the hill, meditating and praying. A series of miracles ensued and eight hairs of the historical Buddha were, somewhat magically, brought to the hill. To enshrine the relics, multiple pagodas of silver, tin, copper, lead, marble, iron and gold where built one on top of the other to a height of twenty meters. During the following centuries, passing from myth to historical fact, the pagoda grew to its present height of ninety-eight meters. Much of the continued construction of Shwedagon was actually reconstruction following disastrous earthquakes. During the 17th century the pagoda suffered earthquake damage on at least eight occasions. A particularly bad quake in 1786 brought the entire top half of the pagoda to the ground and its current shape and height date from the reconstruction of that time.
While much of the pagoda's beauty derives from the complex geometry of its shape and surrounding structures, equally mesmerizing is its golden glow. The lower stupa is plated with 8,688 solid gold bars, an upper part with another 13,153. The tip of the stupa, far too high for the human eye to discern in any detail, is set with 5448 diamonds, 2317 rubies, sapphires, and other gems, 1065 golden bells and, at the very top, a single 76-carat diamond. Surrounding the pagoda are a plentitude of smaller shrines housing pre-Buddhist spirits called Nats, miracle working images, and even a wish granting stone. The entire temple complex radiates a palpable sense of beauty and serenity.

The Biggest Snakes in the World-Photos, Anacondas,Pythons

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alaska rehab facility takes in walrus

In this photo released by the Alaska SeaLife Center shows young walrus at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska

SEWARD, Alaska -- A young walrus is exploring new surroundings at the Alaska SeaLife Center after first appearing without its mother about a month ago near the Red Dog Mine port facility south of Kivalina.
The walrus, born last year and weighing over 400 pounds, seemed exhausted and lethargic, hauling out on the backs of zinc ships as they were loaded. It eluded several attempts to capture it, until last Thursday.
The walrus, named "Chukchi," was flown to Kotzebue and Anchorage on chartered cargo planes, and then on to Seward where it is getting acclimated in the center's rehabilitation facility.
Visitors to the center can observe Chukchi on a monitor near the touch pool, via a video camera linked to its quarantined area.
When the walrus was first spotted near the Red Dog Mine port facility, there was no sign of its mother. Walrus can remain dependent on their mothers for more than two years. Workers decided to call the SeaLife Center's stranding response staff for assistance.
"U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists tell us that harvested animals of this age normally have only their mother's milk for stomach contents," said Tim Lebling, stranding coordinator at the Alaska SeaLife Center.
After taking note of the walrus's size and budding tusks, Lebling determined it was born last year. While the animal did not need to be rescued, center staff decided the young walrus needed to be captured and nursed back to optimum health.
Walrus calves are born mostly in late April or early May during the spring migration, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Web site. At birth, they can weigh 100 to 160 pounds. Calves are dependent upon their mothers for at least 18 months and occasionally for as long as 2 1/2 years.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The 10 most intriguing extrasolar planets,Free floaters-Photo

There are known exoplanets that have one, two and even three suns. But one bizarre class of planet-sized objects has no suns at all, and instead floats untethered through space. Called planemos, the objects are similar to, but smaller than, brown dwarfs, failed stars too small to achieve stellar ignition.

NASA spacecraft finds possible Mars caves

An orbiting spacecraft has found evidence of what look like seven caves on the slopes of a Martian volcano, the space agency NASA said on Friday.
The Mars Odyssey spacecraft has sent back images of very dark, nearly circular features that appear to be openings to underground spaces.
"They are cooler than the surrounding surface in the day and warmer at night," said Glen Cushing of the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Team and Northern Arizona University.
"Their thermal behavior is not as steady as large caves on Earth that often maintain a fairly constant temperature, but it is consistent with these being deep holes in the ground."
The holes, which the researchers have nicknamed the "Seven Sisters," are at some of the highest altitudes on the planet, on a volcano named Arsia Mons near Mars' tallest mountain, the researchers report in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
"Whether these are just deep vertical shafts or openings into spacious caverns, they are entries to the subsurface of Mars," said USGS researcher Tim Titus.
"Somewhere on Mars, caves might provide a protected niche for past or current life, or shelter for humans in the future."
But not these caves.
"These are at such extreme altitude, they are poor candidates either for use as human habitation or for having microbial life," Cushing said. "Even if life has ever existed on Mars, it may not have migrated to this height."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ancient Egyptian Art-amazing photos

The earliest Egyptian art is very different from that of the pyramids and temples of the Pharaonic period. As early as the eighth millennium BC, the first inhabitants of the Nile Valley began to make engraved drawings on the cliffs, particularly in Upper Egypt and Nubia. They depicted the fundamentals of their lives, from wild game and hunting scenes in the earlier times to river boats and herds of cattle in the early Neolithic period. The art of the Predynastic period has survived mainly in the form of small carved stone and ivory grave goods, together with pottery vessels, placed alongside the deceased in simple pit burials. The small votive figures of people and animals include many female statuettes made of pottery and ivory, whose exaggerated sexual characteristics suggest that they probably related to early fertility cults.
Some of the painted scenes on pottery vessels continue, during the Predynastic period, to reflect the prehistoric rock-carvings, while others begin to display the styles and preoccupations of the Dynastic period. In the final stages of the Predynastic period, a range of unusual ceremonial artifacts, including maces, palettes and ivory handled flint knives, began to play an important role in the emerging religious ritual and social hierarchy. Many of the more elaborate mace heads and palettes, such as those of the kings named Scorpion and Narmer, were discovered in a deposit of the temple at Hierakonpolis, and though the archaeological circumstances of their discovery are poorly documented, they were apparently meant as votive offerings. Their carved decoration appears to summarize the important events of the year in which they were offered to the god. However, it is unclear whether any of the scenes depicting historical events are real, or simply generalized representations of myth and ritual. In fact, this would be a problem with Egyptian art throughout the ages.
A number of references on ancient Egypt insinuate that the Egyptians had no concept of the term, art. Indeed, we know of no word from the ancient Egyptian language that exactly conforms to our abstract use of the word. They did have words for their creations that we today regard as examples of Egyptian art, such as statues, stelas and tombs, but we have no reason to believe that these words necessarily included an aesthetic dimension in their meaning.
Though the ancient Egyptians built and decorated their monuments, and cut their statues first and foremost for religious functionality, this does not mean that the Egyptians were not aware of and did not aim for an aesthetic content. To represent was, in a way, to create, and Egyptian representation in both two and three dimensions was meant to create images that would function as a meaningful part of the cult of the gods and the dead.
Statues were objects in which deities could manifest themselves, while images of the dead ensured their survival in the next world and formed a point of contact between this and the next domains, where the deceased could receive the offerings of the living. Depictions of temple cult ceremonies ensured their enactment for all time, and portrayals of offering goods meant that these items would be available in the next world. Furthermore, images of protective deities found in houses, on furniture and made into amulets created a powerful shield against the malign forces of the universe.
Most of what we see of ancient Egyptian art, at museums or in books, are pieces that appeal to modern aesthetic tastes. Yet they represent only a selection of surviving Egyptian material and are usually pieces produced under royal patronage. For each of these pieces, there are many, many others collecting dust in museum reserve collections that are not so finely made. These latter items may demonstrate poor workmanship, unbalanced compositions, awkward proportions or clumsy execution, but they were came from the more common Egyptians. Though these items lack the artistic quality of the more accomplished works, they must have still been thought to have functioned for the benefit of their owners.
Hence, we must ask ourselves why those of power sought out the best artists, if not for their superior artistic abilities. And we must also question Egyptologists who tell us that art completely surrounded Egyptian religion, for it did not, nor may it have always served a specific function. We find, in tombs of common Egyptians, sometimes intricate scenes of daily life that seemingly have really very little mortuary functionality, but we also find designs on pottery and other items that today we would call art, and appear to have no further function than to adorn the pottery, making it more appealing. Indeed, while the ancient Egyptians may not have had an abstract word to denote art in general, they did appreciate fine designs and well decorated objects.
However, it should also be pointed out that artists in ancient Egypt were very different than their modern counterparts. In ancient Egyptian society, conformity and not individualism was encouraged, and there was hardly a place for an artist with a personal vision that broke the accepted norms. In fact, Egyptian artists usually worked in teams and according to strict guidelines, even though their works might be highly regarded. This does not mean that artists could not experiment and innovate within certain limits.
Many of the fundamentals of Egyptian art were established at the very beginning of Egyptian history and changed little over time. Subject matter also remained relatively unchanged over long periods of time. However, Egyptian art did not remain completely static over the three thousand years of pharaonic history. Despite the limited repertory of subject matter, Egyptian artists valued variation and avoided producing exact copies of the same forms.
To understand most of the Egyptian artwork that we see in museums and books, we must understand that it was produced by elite Egyptians, mostly for specific functions, and that it was an integral part of their world view. It is important that we understand the purpose of the artwork, or the concepts that shaped it, because a lack of such information has often led people to unfavorably compare it to the art of other cultures. For example, while the ancient Egyptians produced sculptures that were intricately detailed and lifelike in many ways, they never turned the body and twisted it through space as we find in classical Greek statuary. Egyptian artists sometimes got left and right "muddled, and never seem to have discovered the rules of geometric perspective as European artists did in the Renaissance. In fact, such shortcomings had little if anything to do with the ability of the artists, and everything to do with the purpose for which they were producing their art. Egyptian art was not intended to merely imitate or reflect reality, but to replace and perpetuate it. Hence, for example, the religious ritual known as "the opening of the mouth" was not just performed by Egyptian funerary priest on the mummy of the deceased, but also on his or her statuary.
Egyptian art was concerned above all with ensuring the continuity of the universe, the gods, the king and the people. The artists therefore depicted things not as they saw them but as idealized symbols intended to be more significant and enduring than was otherwise possible in the real world. The best, most inspired Egyptian art therefore blends the real with the ideal.
The essential elements of art during the Old Kingdom were the funerary sculpture and painted reliefs of the royal family and the provincial elite. One of the most impressive statues to come from this period is the diorite figure of the seated Khafra, builder of the second pyramid at Giza,. On the simplest level, the statue is a portrait of a powerful individual, but is also made up of symbols that relate to the general role of the pharaoh. His head and neck are physically embraced by the wings of a hawk representing the protective god, Horus, who was also the divine counterpart of the mortal ruler. His throne is decorated on either side with a complex design consisting of the hieroglyph meaning "union" tied up with the tendrils of the plants of Upper and Lower Egypt, all of which symbolizes the unified state over which he ruled. In the same manner, an alabaster statue of the 6th Dynasty ruler Pepi I has the rear of the throne carved to imitate a serekh with Horus perched on the top.
After the Old Kingdom, centralized power within Egypt declined into what we refer to as the First Intermediate Period. This decline in power resulted in a period when provincial workshops at sites such as el-Mo'alla and Gebelein began to create distinctive funerary decoration and equipment rather than being influenced by the artists at the royal court, as they were earlier during the Old Kingdom and later during the Middle Kingdom.
During the Middle Kingdom, Egyptian art is exemplified both by the fragments of reliefs from the royal pyramid complexes at Dahshur, el-Lisht, el-Lahun and Hawara, and by the spacious tombs of the governors buried at Beni Hassan in Middle Egypt. In the latter, the traditional scenes of the deceased receiving offerings or hunting and fishing in the marshes are joined by large depictions of wrestling and warfare, perhaps copied from Old Kingdom royal prototypes.
The history of the Middle Kingdom is very much characterized by a tension between the artistic styles of the various provincial sites and the styles of the royal workshops at Itjtawy, the new capital established near el-Lisht. Only by the late Middle Kingdom does the distinctive provincial styles become eclipsed by the art of the royal workshops..
After the Middle Kingdom, Egypt was ruled for a period of time by Asiatics, who gained control of a considerable area of the country. The works of art surviving from this phase show that the foreign rulers simply re-used and copied traditional Egyptian sculptures and reliefs in order to strengthen their claims to the throne.