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Genomic Fossils Reveal Explosion of Life 3 Billion Years Ago

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 6:25 am

Life has existed on Earth for roughly 3.5 billion years, but there is very little fossil record left for most of that time. However, two researchers have used modern genomes to look back in time and reconstruct the evolution of ancient cells.


Their work has revealed an explosion of life about 3 billion years ago, coinciding with the appearance of the chemical mechanism that makes possible two crucial processes – respiration and photosynthesis. [Scientists Hunt for Signs of the Earliest Life on Earth]


“What is really remarkable about these findings is that they prove that the histories of very ancient events are recorded in the shared DNA of living organisms,” said one of the researchers, Eric Alm, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He collaborated with Lawrence David, who received his doctorate from MIT and is now a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows.


To turn the clocks back, Alm and David used information about modern genomes in combination with their own mathematical model that took into account the ways genes evolve, such as, the creation and inheritance of new gene families and the loss of genes. Using this technique, they traced thousands of genes from 100 modern genomes back to those genes’ first appearance on Earth.


This genomic “fossil record” indicates that the collective genome of life expanded between 3.3 billion and 2.8 billion years ago. During this period, 27 percent of all presently existing gene families came into being. The pair dubbed this the Archean Expansion.


This expansion coincided with the development of modern electron transport, which is the biochemical process responsible for shuttling electrons within cellular membranes to make breathing oxygen and carrying out photosynthesis possible.


“Our results can’t say if the development of electron transport directly caused the Archean Expansion,” David said. “Nonetheless, we can speculate that having access to a much larger energy budget enabled the biosphere to host larger and more complex microbial ecosystems.”


After the Archean Expansion, about 2.5 billion years ago, the atmosphere filled with oxygen, a dramatic event in the history of life on Earth, called the Great Oxidation Event. A type of photosynthesis, made possible by electron transport, is believed to have driven the oxygenation of the atmosphere.


Alm and David detailed their findings online Dec. 19 in the journal Nature.


 

Source: SGGP

Mekong Delta looks for way to reveal its hidden charms

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Vietnamese and native cultures are strong points of the Mekong Delta tourism that have attracted a great number of visitors per year. However, the delta region hasn’t got a prominent role on the national tourism map yet.

          Foreign tourists visit Mekong Delta region

The Mekong Delta is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religion region with innumerable festivals all year round.

Festivals, floating markets, specialties, Dan ca tai tu Nam bo (Southern amateur music), exuberant orchards, immense rice fields and many islets along the Hau Rivers are appealing tourist attractions of the land.

In addition, the flood season is also a character of the South. During this time, fields are submerged in water. Farmers temporarily set aside their farm work and turn to catching fish to make a living.

Tours to the Mekong Delta on this occasion have appealed many overseas Vietnamese, said deputy director of Ben Thanh Tourist Company Nguyen Minh Quyen.

Cultural and Sport Festival in the flood season in An Giang Province has been recently a flourishing season of the tourism industry, he added.

However, the local authorities have been only interested in exploiting the natural resources, not trying to create new tourist services and products. They have also indeliberately lost advantages of the region.

Visitors pluck dien dien flowers on river in the flood season.

As an example, Nga Bay (seven-way intersection) hundred-year-old floating market in Hau Giang Province was closed because it caused traffic jams and pollution. Meanwhile the floating market’s beauty inspired the French captain of the famous Calypso ship, Jacques Yves Cousteau (1910-1997) to made a documentary film in 1992 that was broadcast on more than 100 TV channels throughout the world.

In fact, legends, traditional festivals, habits and customs, daily activities of people in the area are special tourist products.

In related news, documents on don ca tai tu (southern amateur music) are being compiled for submission to UNESCO to be recognized as a world intangible cultural heritage.

The local authorities of Mekong Delta provinces have to cooperate with cultural experts to preserve and develop their traditional cultural values to create tourist characters.

They should also concentrate in training more tourism staff, promote and diversify tourism products.

Source: SGGP

911 calls reveal horror as US gunman ran down victims

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 7:20 am

The US man who shot dead eight people after being sacked from a beer depot ran after his victims as they hid in offices, closets and the parking lot, emergency police calls revealed.


A total of 20 calls were made to the 911 number from terrified workers at Hartford Distributors in the town of Manchester, Connecticut, as Omar Thornton, 34, went on the rampage Tuesday.


“I got shot,” the company’s executive, Steve Hollander, tells police from an office where he had been shot in the head.

Police guard the entrance to Hartford Distributors following a shooting in Manchester, Connecticut.

“I see him running now. There?s people running. He?s running away right now. He?s shooting at somebody else. He?s still shooting. He?s shooting at a girl! He?s still running after people,” said Hollander, who survived with minor wounds.


“He’s chasing people out in the parking lot.”


Armed with two .9 mm handguns, Thornton killed eight people before turning a gun on himself.


Police say Thornton, a warehouse driver, had gone to the depot to face his bosses and union officials over allegations he’d been stealing alcohol. He was sacked at the meeting.


However, the shooting was apparently premeditated and carefully prepared since even before the meeting Thornton had brought the two pistols into the facility hidden in a lunchbox.


A shotgun was also found in his car, but was not used, Manchester police told a news conference.


“At the conclusion of the meeting, he went back in the kitchen area and asked for a drink of water and we believe at that point he got the lunch box with the guns and took it out,” a Manchester police officer told a news conference.


Thornton’s first two victims were the employees who’d been assigned to escort him out of the building. “They were both killed by him,” the police officer said.


According to the chronology of the 911 calls, he then ran inside and outside of the building seeking prey.


The calls reflected occasional panic, but more helplessness and terror.


“Hurry up please,” one victim pleaded in a faint voice after being shot.


Another woman said she was calling from a paper closet where she had hidden. Asked by police if the door was locked, she said no.


“I’m hiding in the dark,” she says.


“Stay down where you are and hold on one second,” the police tell her.


“Oh my God,” she replies, whimpering. “Help me, please,” she repeats.

“Ma’am, we are on the way, please stay down, stay low all right?” the police reply.

“Yes,” she replies in a weak voice.

A man calls to say he is locked into an office with his son, but that he has been shot.

“Stay in there and stay down, OK? Have your son keep an eye on you, OK? If you start to become less awake or anything you have him call us right now, we’re trying to get you,” the 911 operators says.

The victim says: “I know for a fact two people are dead in here. Inside the building, not in my office but in the hallway, they were both shot right in the head.”

Hartford Distributors is the biggest Budweiser distributor in Connecticut, with some 400 employees.

Many US states have loose gun ownership laws and massacres in public places are a regular occurrence.

In June, a man involved in a domestic dispute opened fire in a Miami area restaurant, killing four women and wounding three others before taking his own life.

In early January an angry employee at a Missouri power plant shot dead three people and wounded five others, before killing himself. The bloodshed was believed to have been triggered by a dispute over his pension funds.

Source: SGGP