Census footprint featured in a Nature News article

The Census footprint is featured in a Nature News article. You can tell how extensive the Census projects have been conducting researches across the globe.

The footprint map is a product of my lab and the web site (comlmaps.org), which accompanies the footprint in the PDF version, is my lab's. 


National Geographic Oceans Special Edition

The project I'm involved in (Census of Marine Life & OBIS) is introduced in National Geographic Oceans Special Edition!
Besides, the pictures in this edition are amazing! Worth stopping by a book store.


Moose and Arthritis

As you may or may not know, moose is my favorite animal. A long story short, my first encounter to moose happened in Yellowstone National Park while I was doing my first ever backpacking. I literally gazed into eyes of a bull moose when he was watching me bite lunch in mere 10 yards or so. Since this incredible encounter, I have been captivated with moose.

So I was glad to see this news article about moose's contribution to human arthritis research. It's funny and unexpected that a connection between moose and human arthritis has been found.

A research on moose in Isle Royale found that many moose suffer a kind of arthritis which, the research revealed, is likely caused by poor nutrition in early development of the body. Although causes of human arthritis and how it develops through the life are very complex, this finding suggests the importance of taking appropriate nutrition in early stage of the life or even by pregnant women.

By the way, Isle Royale is famous of its unique and valuable ecosystem encompassing moose-wolf interaction. I did some studies on this perfect showcase of the predator-prey interaction while in grad school.


Gulf Oil Spill cmoing to an end?

A so-called "static kill" applied to the Deepwater Horizon well that burst out the huge amount of crude oil seems to be a success and President Obama said the disaster is "finally close to coming to an end."

Prior to this, NOAA announced in a report that almost 75% of the spilled oil is gone thanks to various causes, which is summarised as follows.
  • 33% -- Clean-up efforts by human acctivities
  • 25% -- Evaporated or dissolved
  • 16% -- Dispersed
The report says  that much of the rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of harm.

 But wait. Is it really over? In response to this report, many scientists express concerns. Just because you can't see any remaining oil on the surface of the ocean in your vicinity, that doesn't necessarily mean no more harm. There may be bunch of oil beneath beaches or sunk onto the sea floor. It is also possible that a large amount of oil is just somewhere else, transported by complex currents, at the time of your investigation. More noteworthy is that we don't know yet very well what the long-term effects of the oil taken into the food chain are. A scientist in the above link points out that this disaster should be considered as a "3-D catastrophe", not just a 2-D problem.


Marine Biodiversity

Census of Marine Life, the global project I'm involved in, released a collection of research papers on marine species and biodiversity on PLoS ONE. It is safe to say that they are the most comprehensive assessments of marine species and biodiversity in the human history. The researches were conducted by region.

A news article published on Nature is a good summary of the collection. It reports that while discoveries of new species will continue, the species and biodiversity in oceans are under threats such as overfishing, habitat loss, endemic species, and pollution along with emerging sea temperature rise and acidification due to the global warming.

Please refer to the Census press release, too.


Global warming is the fact

US NOAA issued a report in July 2010 that stresses that the "global warming is undeniable." This report investigates 10 climate-related indexes such as sea surface temperature, temperature over land and sea ice cover from the real world observations.

This should be regarded complimentary to the approach by IPCC, the world's leading body for the environmental issues, where it develops global climate models and predicts the future climates based on the models. The importance of the NOAA report is that it pronounces that the global warming is the fact derived from the real data.

As opposed to the dull responses to the environmental issues under the Busch administration, US already declared in December 2009 that greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. The NOAA report clearly follows this view.

Around the same time, US EPA rejected claims issued by the fossil fuel industry and other opponents of action on climate change. It's a strong message that EPA is determined to regulate greenhouse gases.

It's a sheer surprise to me that there are still a bunch of people who stand against the global warming.


Phytoplankton decreasing significantly

Roughly a half of the oxygen on earth is produced by phytoplankton in the ocean while the other half is by plants on land.

A Nature article reveals that phytoplankton are decreasing substantially probably due to the higher ocean temperature caused by the global warming. In addition to the major source for the earth oxygen, phytoplankton are the basis of the food chain in oceans. With such essential roles for the earth environment, this significant decrease of phytoplankton will likely have a serious impacts on the future earth environment.

Dr. Falkowski, who commented on the article, expressed a concern that "We're squeezing big open-ocean fish like tuna and swordfish from both ends." That is to say we are not only overfishing big fish from above (land) but also threatening their existence by destroying the marine food chain from the bottom (ocean).

Nothing human being have been done for good?

By the way, Boris Worm, one of the article authors, is a Census of Marine Life researcher and I have met him before.

Related news article from Scientific American


Brazil, most royal to football

While watching a football (aka soccer) game, you probably don't have a time to net-surf if you are really into it. Google shows this tendency by comparing the volumes of Google queries during World Cup matches against ordinary days.

It is no surprise that the volume of queries by Brazilians significantly drops during Brazil matches. The volume change from Brazil is so intense compared with other countries that it proves their royalty to football. Other European and South American power houses also show huge changes in queries.

Japanese royalty to football (we call it soccer in Japan) is developing, I would say. The fact that soccer is less popular than baseball or American football in US is evident from the dull drop of the queries during the matches.


Al Gore called environmental issues moral issues

The Former Vice President Al Gore visited Duke University on April 8, 2010 and gave a talk on the environmental issues. He delivered the audience how to tackle environmental issues and why.

Looking back at what we have done to the environment, he called our generation a criminal generation and stressed that we have to take actions and save future environmental refugees who will be suffering from what we have done. You can't argue that it's OK because we have a happy life now. You have to take environmental issues as moral issues. That's why we must deal with them now.

There was a moment when the audience boosted up, cheering and praising. That was when Mr. Gore talked about the technologies to reduce green house gases especially CO2.

That is to say...

There have been huge improvements on the CO2 reduction technologies. However, they are not good enough yet. But don't worry as we have already gotten the most advanced technology called forests!


Windows 7

Finally, I've switched from my old Windows XP machine to a Windows 7 one running on Dell Studio Slim. I particularly like the new taskbar, explorer, control panel among others, with nice touches on them. A great improvement is seen on Windows Media Player with clean views of the library, much nicer than iTnues.

I connected my old PC and new one through the network and copied all files over, which went very well. The MWP library was successfully transferred to the new PC in this way.

The graphic driver is equipped with an HDMI output, so I can connect the PC with a high-definition TV to enjoy movies and slideshows on TV. The sound comes out from TV, much nicer than cheap PC speakers.

Windows 7 64bit
Intel Core 2 Quad  Q9550 (2.83GHz, 12MB Cache)
4GB Memory
ATI Radeon HD 4350 512MB
21.5" Full-HD screen


CoML not to be listed in Oceans

As already posted, Census of Marine Life, which my lab is involved in, participated in the production of the movie Oceans. The US version, which will be released on April 22nd by Disney, is significantly altered from its international version.

The producer and director of the movie are hugely disappointed with this and hence Census of Marine Life and its funding organization Sloan Foundation have decided not to support the US version.

While CoML and Sloan Foundation are given credit at the beginning of the international version, they won't be listed in the US version.

I haven't watched the US version and have no idea how the US version is different from the international counterpart. I guess the US version leans too much to commercialism. I will report when it's released in the US.


SeaWorld's killer whale got a trainer drowned

After a show at Orlando's SeaWorld, the killer whale, Tilikum, pulled a trainer into the water and kept him under water to death (2010-02-24).This is not the first incident that Tilikum played a role for people's death. In addition, it is reported that Tilikum showed a frustrated behavior before the show (from CNN).

Jane Velez-Mitchell at CNN maintained (from CNN) that whales should not be kept captive under the cover of science, the realism of which is about profit.

As long as my knowledge goes, wild killer whales never attak human.

While it is wildlife conservation to rescue stranded or hurt whales, it is hard to be justified to capture wild whales to put them on a show.


MISIA appointed as Honorary Ambassador for COP10

Japanese singer MISIA, whom I am a huge fan of, is appointed as Honorary Ambassador for COP10.
Although I can't say for sure at this moment, I may be able to attend COP10. That means I may have a chance to meet her? Probably not.


Non-smoking in public spaces in Japan

Japan is way behind the US when it comes to non-smoking in public spaces. At last, Japan is heading to this (asahi.com in Japanese).
The most annoying thing while in Japan is a smoke-filled cafe! So many cafes and restaurants still allow smoking with a loose separation between smoking and non-smoking areas or even no separation at all that I hesitate to enjoy a coffee break.

In Japan, you can buy tabacco packages at a vending machine (the regulation on buying at a vending machine is getting tightened, though).

I'm very happy that most US states ban smoking in public spaces (List of smoking bans in the United States on Wikipedia). It's much less frequent in the US than in Japan that I get annoyed with somkes.


Carrie Underwood - Superbowl XLIV National Anthem

Yes, I love Carrie Underwood and I missed her National Anthem in Superbowl XLIV. I didn't know that the show would begin at 6:30pm.
So here is the one on YouTube. Always big voice and long breath. Amazing!


Only 3,000 tigers dwindling

According to the WWF report, wild tigers may go extinct within a generation. See the depressing map on a CNN article showing the past and present ranges of the tigers. A dismal fact is that there are more captive tigers than in the wild.
This year is "Year of the Tiger."


La Fille du Régiment

I watched La Fille du Régiment by Donizetti at Met. It was comically performed and very funny. At the same time, so beautifully some of the songs were sung, I fell in love with this relatively unknown opera. The two leading singers, Diana Damrau (Marie) and Juan Diego Flórez (Tonio), did a great job. One of Flórez's arias in Act I was so impressive that the ovation lasted for minutes. I also liked a full range of emotion by Damrau.
The Met Orchestra was superb as always.
Another surprise is that the famous Kiri Te Kanawa took a role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp in Act II. I didn't know this and wondered why the audience gave her applause before she sang. (^^;


From H-1 to J-1

I have switched my visa status from H-1 to J-1, which is valid from Feburary. An H-1 holder is allowed to stay in the US for up to 6 years and I consumed it at the end of January. To stay longer in the US, I decided to apply for a J-1 status,which allows you to stay in the US for 5 years.
It is not uncommon to switch from J-1 to H-1 but it seems much less common the other way around. But I didn't have any problem getting a J-1 visa. You could transfer your status from H-1 to J-1 while in the US. However, I was told that it would be more complicated and take a longer time than applying for J-1 afresh in Japan, which I did. I got a J-1 visa in a week.
When entering the US, I presented my J-1 visa stamp and DS-2019 and got I-94 with D/S (Duration of Status).



The movie "Oceans" is now on screen in Japan, three months ahead of US. The footage is absolutely amazing but I felt a little bit disappointed with the story, which is narrated by Rie Miyazawa, one of the most notable female actresses in Japan. My disappointment has nothing to do with her. Rather, the story itself is boring. While the movie is not conservation-oriented, I wish the story could be more dynamic and prone to telling the valunerability of the oceans.

The movie is released by Disney on April 22 in the US.

I see a lot of media coverage of this movie in Japan. Not so much in US yet as it is still three months prior to its release. I will report how the movie is picked up in the US media. 

The movie is supported by Census of Marine Life, a global project on marine sciences, which my lab is heavily involved in. You can download a beautiful brochure. On Page 5 is a map showing shooting locations, which I created.