Friday, July 20, 2007

Mail from "Wyatt Herb"

Another sample from my daily e-mails. I think this one's serious:

"WYATT HERB"

Hi!

My name is Manu Costa, specialist in products of information on data set from tropical rainforests, skilled with wide range of expertise. I can assure you I am capable of climb up all dominat vegetables canopy, reaching over the reflective tree foliage, installing and enabling GPS software devices to supply geodesic coordinates for tracking the expeditionary surface area.

The emergent high forest in most unlikely conditions of plant biodiversity portray complex phyto-architecture, allowing treetop exploration. This flexibility potential is indicated in:

Botany collecting of blossoming and tree fruits, for inventory and taxonomy purposes, bio-prospecting of new plants species, insects, among others;
Any field routine tasks on tropical rainforest's survey, which require reaching tree's crown.

Objectives: join multi-subject ecologist teams, explorer missions, filmmaker expeditions or any other group with scientific purposes. What can be offered: working experience, dedication, competence and determination on pursuing scientific objectives.

It will be excellent if you, who is now reading this article, keep this information for future needs or forward it to whom you judge it may suit. More information about the efficiency on such procedures or references (and resume) about work, upon your request.

Success!

Manu L. Costa (Manu de Lima e Costa [manulc@uol.com.br])

So there you go. Free advertising to an enterprising fellow.

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 Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bored? Got a few moments?

Head over to the Galaxy Zoo and do some classifying!

Learn the difference between elliptical and spiral galaxies in a few minutes with an easy tutorial, take a test, and if you qualify you can start classifying galaxies in no time at all.

You will likely be looking at images seen by no other human, and contributing to a massive effort led by English researchers at Oxford University to classify over a million galaxies. There is apparently some evidence from a sample of about 1,600 galaxies that there is a locally preferred direction of rotation, and this effort will try and confirm or refute this with a much better statistical sample using images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which reaches out far beyond the local group.

You will get pretty good at it, and quickly amass several hundred galaxies.

Here are two typical samples:


...obviously a clockwise spiral.

Here's one that's a little more difficult:


...a little less obviously another clockwise spiral.

It can get difficult:



There are some cases, like this one, where the galaxy is so far away that the image is extremely low resolution, and there is really no way to tell.

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 Monday, July 16, 2007

Tumbleweed

...I did not know this until today, but that bouncing symbol of the West, the tumbleweed, is actually an invasive species, brought over to North America from its native Ukraine by European immigrants in the 1800's.

I didn't know it was edible when young, either.

I just know it's prickly, and really a pain to remove after someone fills up your car and your dorm room with it (a Caltech prank). I found bits of it for months after that...

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