Dino-Feather Story Gets Fluffier

first_imgXing Xu is at it again, claiming that dinosaur feathers are found everywhere – in China, at least, where the bulk of “feathered dinosaur” claims keep turning up in farmyards.  The latest claim is that “Feather structures in maturing dinosaurs changed as they grew.”  This story is accompanied by artwork showing the critters looking as big and fierce as dinosaur monsters (see PhysOrg and National Geographic); in reality, though, they would have been as small as pigeons.    Xu’s paper in Nature concerns two specimens of Similicaudipteryx, which is, obviously, similar to Caudipteryx.  Yet Caudipteryx has long been considered by some as not a dinosaur but a member of the class Aves (birds) that became secondarily flightless (see 12/27/2000, 01/25/2008, 01/21/2009).  Since none of the critics of dinosaur-to-bird evolution were allowed to rebut the claims of the paper in Nature, it is hard to have confidence this fossil has anything to say about a transition from dinosaurs to birds.    Xu claims that the plumage patterns seen in these few fossils “suggests that early feathers were developmentally more diverse than modern ones” and have no counterparts in modern birds.  This is assuming that his team has correctly identified the fossils of extinct animals as members of the same species and can know their ages within acceptable margins of error without having living examples to observe.  Even if that is true, the results do not provide any simple story for the evolution of feathers.  Instead, it appears that modern birds’ moulting habits are simpler now than they were in the past.1.  Xing Xu, Xiaoting Zheng, Hailu You, Exceptional dinosaur fossils show ontogenetic development of early feathers,” Nature 464, 1338-1341 (29 April 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08965.The supplemental materials in Xu’s paper include a phylogenetic tree showing all the dinosaur groups that supposedly have feathers, and the feather types that have been found.  At first glance it looks impressive, but a closer look raises questions.  He has tyrannosaurids mixed in with the oviraptors and velociraptors and all these other animals.  The cladogram supposedly shows ancestral relationships, with feather types at the tips of each group.  You look at the feather types, though, and the clear bird feathers (pennate feathers with quills and barbs and barbules, and asymmetric flight feathers) have question marks by half the groups.  You read the caption and find his disclaimer that the evidence is questionable for these.  The ones that have the bird-like feathers could be said to be extinct bird lineages or secondarily flightless birds. circular reasoning.    Xu tries to answer the argument that some of the feather-like structures might have been flayed collagen, but we need to see the counter-arguments from Feduccia and the guys at University of Oregon (02/09/2010).  Nature, Science and National Geographic are giving way too much press to one side, to the Mr. Feathered Dinosaur guy Xing Xu.  This is not good science.  The whole story is not being heard.(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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KaXu Solar One to ease pressure on SA’s energy grid

first_img2 March 2015Lorraine KearneyThe first house in South Africa got electricity in 1890; by 1996, 5-million homes were connected to the grid. But between 1996 and today, South Africa added 7-million houses to the national grid, “doing more in 18 years than the country previously managed in 106 years”.This was the word of Ebrahim Patel, the economic development minister, who was speaking at the opening of KaXu Solar One outside Pofadder on Monday. With this success has come problems, namely the need for more power to be generated.Solutions to this hunger for power are coming thick and fast, in the form of renewable and coal-fired power.KaXu Solar One is the first solar thermal electricity (STE) plant in South Africa. It is also the biggest of its kind in Africa and the southern hemisphere. In opening the plant, Patel said: “Tonight, when ordinary South Africans put on their lights, put on their stoves to cook food, or watch television, some of that electricity would have been generated today near Pofadder.”Open skiesKaXu, which means “open skies” in the local Nama language, will add 100MW of electricity from the sun to the national grid, which is equal to about 320 gigawatt hours of electricity a year.“This is equal to the consumption of 80 000 houses, so serving more than 400 0000 South Africans. In practical terms, this is the consumption of all the households in Mossel Bay, Oudshoorn, Knysna and Swellendam combined,” said Patel.The plant covers an area of three square kilometres. It is made up of 17nbsp;200 collectors; each collector has 10 modules; each module has 28 mirrors. There are a total of 336 000 mirrors on the plant. The mirrors track the movement of the sun.Importantly, STE technology allows electricity to be stored for two-and-a-half hours, which means power will be supplied to the national grid when it is needed most – at peak time after dark. And it saves 315 000 tons of carbon emissions per year, said Armando Zuluaga, the chief executive of Abengoa Solar, a partner of the project.Total investment was $891-million in KaXu, the largest parabolic trough project in the southern hemisphere, according to Javier Benjumea, the president of Abengoa Solar International Advisory Board. “It will generate power when the sun has set. It also offers increased flexibility in terms of storage. It offers the same electricity without carbon emissions and that is a game changer.”KaXu Solar One was opened by Geoffery Qhena, the chief executive of the Industrial Development Corporation; Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel; Armando Zuluaga, the chief executive of Abengoa Solar; and Fadiel Farao, the chairman of the KaXu Community Trust. All are partners in the project.Qhena said the IDC recognised the key importance of the green economy, and had increased its focus in renewable energy as a means to reduce reliance on coal-generated power.Job creationDeveloping the new industries had “facilitated job creation, the upliftment of rural communities, skills and industrial development,” he said. The IDC’s involvement had seen the industry become more competitive and attract interest from different players – demonstrating its role in de-risking the sector.KaXu had a capacity bigger than the installed capacity in the whole of Lesotho, said Patel, who spoke about other initiatives: on 3 March, the Kakamas Hydro Electric Power plant would be opened on the Orange River, adding 10 MW to the grid.“On [5 March], Abengoa directors will fly to Johannesburg to sign the closure agreement for the beginning of the next solar plant – next door. Xina will bring jobs to the community and bring power to the national grid and so help our country to build schools, build manufacturing and grow the economy.”Koeberg equivalentAlready 33 renewable energy plants had been opened and by the end of the month, there would be 1 685 MW available – almost equivalent to Koeberg’s entire output. “In 12 months we have been building plants that will generate almost as much as Koeberg. The difference is that Koeberg generates all the time.”Coal was not forgotten though, and Patel spoke of the Medupi synchronising taking place on the day of KaXu’s inauguration. “Over the next few months, we will make sure the system is stable, and we will bring 800MW of electricity into our grid. All of these are examples of the government working hard to solve the electricity problem.”The total cost of KaXu came in at R7.9-billion investment, with about R1-billion coming from the Spanish group, Abengoa. The balance was supplied by the IDC, Nedbank RMB, Development Bank of Southern Africa, and the International Finance Corporation.KaXu is owned by Abengoa (59%), the IDC (29%) and the KaXu Community Trust (21%). The risk was carried by Abengoa, said Patel, which had put in its equity.Community trustAn important benefit was the value of the project to the rural area of Khai Ma. During construction, 4 500 jobs were created, 80% of them local. Now during operations, there are 80 permanent jobs, and South Africans are being trained to run the plant.Through the trust, the dividends would be invested in long-term projects that would benefit the community for generations to come, said Fadiel Farao, the chairman of the KaXu Community Trust. Projects would be in education, health, and skills development.“Big projects come and go,” said Patel, “so we must see that they create something out of it so that generations to come can be helped.”Finally, a project like this made a positive contribution to sustainability of life on planet. “If we burn coal and petrol all the time, we damage the environment and will kill opportunities for our children and the next generation. We can’t destroy the earth to grow our economy. Renewable energy is a bit more expensive, but we have to invest in it. Because we use the power of the sun, it doesn’t cause damage to our environment.”The life of KaXu is 20 years, but there is an emphasis on growing local manufacturing of the components, which will allow the country to build a solar power manufacturing sector. “We pay more for renewable energy, so we must have a better return,” said Patel. Renewable energy used to cost 100% more than coal-fired power; now that cost had dropped to 50% – and this was dropping all the time as more companies invested in new technology.How KaXu worksSource: IDCWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

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3 Tech Solutions That Will Help You Survive Baby Boomer Brain Drain

first_img3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Them Tags:#brain drain#hiring#knowledge gap#new hire#retirement#staffing challenges#tech#training Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. About 4 million Baby Boomers leave the workforce each year. This is a major concern for business leaders, considering Boomers make up a quarter of the country’s workforce and many hold leadership positions. As some of their most valuable team members transition into retirement, employers are beginning to feel the strain and need to develop a contingency plan.Not that this comes as a surprise — demographers have long predicted that our current decade would see the number of work-bound Baby Boomers begin to rapidly decline. What business leaders might not have counted on, though, is finding a shortage of new professionals in their industry’s talent pool.In particular, industries that have seen a rise and fall of success over the past few decades are losing out on a new generation of applicants, thanks to their unfortunate reputation for unsteady employment. This is especially true for large gas and oil companies, which have experienced long periods of feast or famine since the 1940s.Luckily, there are tools and techniques that can mitigate the loss of retiring workers. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and tailor-made tech solutions can help provide long-term solutions to Baby Boomer brain drain. By applying a liberal dose of technology to your business, you can ease the difficulties caused by this employee exodus.Use Tech to Do More With Fewer PeopleIt’s not enough to simply replace Baby Boomers with an equal number of brand-new employees. After all, a lot of employee experience, education, and well-honed workflows walk out the door with them. Yet every crisis contains both danger and opportunity. The Baby Boomer outflux offers the chance to use technology to reduce your reliance on human workers by streamlining processes and helping you continuously improve the form and function of your business.In the utilities industry, for instance, the retiring workforce represents a major problem — and a prime opportunity for improvement. “The shortage of qualified field technicians is causing a major backlog of work that needs to be accomplished,” notes EnSight+ CEO Lee Schwartz. “To counter the lack of human capital, companies can deploy software that will enable them to do more with less.” Schwartz describes how techs who could handle five jobs in a day were, after the implementation of a software solution, able to tackle up to eight in the same amount of time. Using tech to improve your remaining team members’ efficiency will aid in your efforts to combat the productivity loss caused by retiring Boomers.Use Tech to Store Baby Boomer KnowledgeTech-enhanced processes are a help, but they can only go so far. Without a sufficient brain dump, you may find yourself chasing information that’s long since walked out the door. And much of this knowledge isn’t missed until it’s gone for good. If you’ve been diligent, you may have your employees’ job duties recorded in comprehensive and well-documented operating procedures. But let’s be realistic: Most modern knowledge transfers amount to a few sparsely recorded steps and some stale email threads. Fortunately, there’s more to social networking in the workplace than workers wasting time on Facebook. Collaborative tools such as Bloomfire, Zendesk, and Confluence help employees share knowledge with each other (and the company) on platforms that store this knowledge for later use. For instance, Asian Paints, a leading paint company in India, had its sales staff use the company’s internal social network to share best practices and techniques. When a veteran salesperson leaves, his or her knowledge is stored in the platform so the team can retain that historical knowledge, applying past beneficial practices to today’s challenges. When choosing a knowledge management platform for your business, be sure to read the fine print and select a tool that will safely store your digital knowledge and files.Use Tech to Improve Training for New EmployeesOf course, you can’t solve your entire brain drain problem with tech efficiencies and stored knowledge. You’re going to need new employees, and you’ll have to get them up to speed quickly. Good thing, then, that virtual reality can give new hires a leg up. VR helps reduce the high costs of live training and results in a much higher retention rate than traditional training mediums. Walmart, for example, uses Strivr’s VR tools to train employees on everything from dealing with a Black Friday rush to using unfamiliar technologies, and it has seen climbing retention rates and test scores as a result.In Arizona, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department uses a multiple interaction learning option when training new deputies. Large flat-screen panels are placed around the trainees so they have a 300-degree view of each simulated scene. After the simulation, deputies and their supervisors talk through the exercise. This mimics the continued learning that happens on the job as newer deputies work with more seasoned officers day in and day out. By handling a variety of experiences through simulations, the new deputies don’t have to wait for specific situations to naturally arise on the job to learn from experienced staff. While your new hires are unlikely to face such life-and-death situations, you, too, can use VR training to speed up the transfer of knowledge between your veterans and newbies.As Baby Boomers exit the workforce, the gap in experience between exiting and entering employees can put companies at risk, and often, the knowledge loss isn’t apparent until it’s too late. But tech solutions can lay the groundwork for better data management, faster training, and more skilled employees — all of which can help you bridge the gap between Baby Boomers and entry-level employees. Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Related Posts last_img read more

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BJP fights a tough battle in Panaji by-poll to retain the seat after 25 years

first_imgAfter 25 years of continous dominance over the Panaji assembly constituency, the Bharatiya Janata Party sans Manohar Parrikar is fighting a tough battle on Sunday to retain its winning streak. One of the highlights of the Panaji by-poll is that Goa election authorities have tried to make the polling infrastructure 100% accessible, by getting the stakeholders into confidence over accessibility audit and a tie-up with EazyMov taxi operators to help persons with disability(PswD) voters to cast their votes smoothly. One of the 19 booths of the constituency would be entirely managed by PswD. Panaji has 115 such voters.The stakes are high for the BJP as far as the by-election to four assembly seats, including Panaji, holds the key to the survival of the BJP-led coalition government headed by Pramod Sawant ho succeeded Parrikar after his death on March 17. At present, the government has a thin majority of 20 in the truncated House of 36.In addition to this, BJP has been facing internal bickerings after it denied ticket to Parrikar’s elder son Utpal after allowing him to be projected as a front-runner for the Panaji ticket. The chances of a win for BJP candidate Siddarth Kuncaliekar, a former aide of Parrikar and two-time MLA (while Parrikar was away in Delhi in 2014-17 as Defence Minister) in Panaji hinge on the vote-splitting ability of former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, who is in the fray on Goa Suraksha Manch ticket. The regional outfit was floated and mentored by Mr. Velingkar after he was sacked as RSS chief in Goa following his fallout with Parrikar over the issue of medium of instruction at the primary school level. As the election campaign came to an end on Friday evening, both Congress and BJP said that they are confident of winning. CM Sawant dismissed claims made by the Congress about ousting his government soon.“Congress should not dream of forming a government. The dream will never be fulfilled. Our alliance and independent MLAs are all together. There is no question of the government falling,” Mr. Sawant said on Friday. Three assembly by-polls for the constituencies of Shiroda, Mapusa and Mandrem had been held on April 23.Both BJP and the Congress are currently tied with 14 MLAs each in the State legislative assembly.Meanwhile, Congress said that BJP would lose the by-polls 4-0, leading to the ouster of Mr. Sawant’s government. “The BJP will have to bid goodbye to its government after results are declared. The people are tired of their lies and misgovernance,” State Congress president Girish Chodankar said. The others in the fray include Aam Aadmi Party’s Valmiki Naik, who can play spoilsport for the Congress. Knowing the importance of the Panaji by-poll for his government, Mr. Sawant has virtually camped there for last several days and tried to undo the damage done to the party over the Utpal Parrikar-ticket issue. Mr. Utpal and his younger brother Mr. Abhijat too had joined the campaign. The month-long campaign was also marked with controversies which included a rape victim (who had accused Atanasio Monserrate, now the Congress candidate for the Panaji by-poll in 2016 when she was a minor) going missing and a mysterious assault on the BJP candidate Kuncalienkar. The campaign also saw the Congress attack Mr. Kuncalienkar, accusing of him of alleged scams in creating infrastructure for the Smart City project in Panaji, a charge which the BJP candidate has denied. Panaji has total voters of 22,485 — 10,698 male and 11,787 female. The constituency has seen a voting average of 60-70%, except during 2012 Assembly election. In 2012, Parrikar, who won the seat for six terms, won with a record victory margin of 6,000. The voting was a record of 78.85%.In the 2017 by-poll, Parrikar had defeated his Congress rival Girish Chodankar by 4,803 votes. Parrikar had won 63.47% of the total votes polled, while his opponent polled 32.56%.last_img read more

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CWG: Indian wrestlers Ravinder, Sanjay, Anil bag 3 gold medals

first_imgIndian wrestlers on Tuesday did the nation proud by winning three gold medals in the Greco-Roman category at the Commonwealth Games. India’s Ravinder Singh makes a victory run after beating Terence Christopher Bosson of England (Red) to win gold in 60kg Greco Roman wrestling event at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on Tuesday.While Ravinder Singh won the gold in the 60 kg Greco-Roman category, Sanjay Singh and Anil Kumar clinched the gold in the 74 kg and 96 kg segments respectively.ALSO SEE: India opens Games with a bang | Indian shooters win 2 gold medals Ravinder defeated UK’s Terence Christopher 2-0, 7-0 while Sanjay beat Richard Brian Addinall of South Africa 1-0, 1-0. Anil defeated Australia’s Hassene Fkiri to win the gold.last_img read more

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