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first_imgOAKLAND — The Oakland A’s ranked 24th out of 30 teams in average attendance this season, but as the club prepares to host the American League Wild Card Game on Wednesday, it’s touting a unique home-field advantage that few, if any franchises can match.The A’s sold an average of 20,521 tickets for their 81 regular season home games, but fans have already purchased more than 50,000 tickets for Wednesday’s playoff matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays.“It’s big for our fans to see this caliber of …last_img read more

first_imgHere’s a flock of bird stories that have Charles Darwin on stage or in the wings, so to speak.Was Darwin wrong?  Yes!  Contra National Geographic (10/24/2004), the science news outlets are all saying today that Darwin was wrong – but only about the origin of chickens (see EurekAlert #1, EurekAlert #2 and Science Daily).  The point of contention is so trivial, creationists lured by the headline might be chagrined to find the science media making such a big flap about a misdemeanor by the father of evolutionary theory, but not making a peep about what they perceive as his much bigger flights of fancy.Why pigeons sleep:  Pigeons take power naps, reported EurekAlert.  In fact, their sleep patterns seem similar to those of humans.  This can only mean one thing: “the independent evolution of similar sleep states in birds and mammals might be related to the fact that each group also independently evolved large brains capable of performing complex cognitive processes.”  Darwin was not mentioned but we all know he was a pigeon fancier.  He most likely took power naps himself, presumably not when writing books.Dino-age cormorants:  National Geographic News reported a discovery of large amounts of seabird fossils in Cretaceous strata on an island off New Zealand.  The “spectacular deposit” also included “bones that are too large to belong to birds, including what could be the big toe from a two-legged carnivorous dinosaur known as a theropod.”  The identification of the big one as a dinosaur, however, is tentative.  The bird fossils “seem to resemble modern seabirds known as cormorants” (see 05/24/2004).Darwin’s finches redux:  Peter and Rosemary Grant, the Darwin-finch experts, have distilled their 30+ years of research into a new book, How and Why Species Multiply (Princeton, 2008).  From the title, the book generalizes far beyond a few species on the Galapagos Islands.  Hanna Kokko reviewed the book in Science.1  Kokko did not add much new beyond the obligatory retelling of the Galapagos voyage and the inspiration it gave the young naturalist.  She hurriedly listed a few of the conclusions from the Grants’ painstaking research: stories of hybridization, founder populations, genetic bottlenecks, heterozygous genes, competition for resources, and the effects of drought on beak size.  None of this led to definitive conclusions.  Rather, “That context is where we start to understand what all the details mean.”  She ended quoting the Grants’ takeoff on Dobzhansky: “Nothing in evolutionary biology makes sense except in the light of ecology.”Another quick bird factoid comes from PNAS:  a Hungarian team found that falcons and humans (using paragliders) employ the same soaring strategies.2  “We find that there are relevant common features in the ways birds and humans use thermals,” they said.  “In particular, falcons seem to reproduce the MacCready formula widely used by gliders to calculate the best slope to take before an upcoming thermal.”1.  Hanna Kokko, “Evolution: Happening Now, Outdoors,” Science, 29 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1187-1188, DOI: 10.1126/science.1154815.2.  Akos, Nagy and Vicsek, “Comparing bird and human soaring strategies,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online on March 3, 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0707711105.Look carefully in each of these stories for clear, unambiguous evidence for Darwin’s primary contention that all living things – from bacteria to birds and humans – emerged from a single primordial cell through an unguided process of natural selection acting on random mutations.  You’ll see a lot of fluttering and clucking, but nothing of substance.  What has Darwin laid but a DODO egg? (i.e., a biology that chirps “Darwin only, Darwin only.”)    Flight engineering technology in birds, imitated by humans, leads to the conclusion birds were designed.  Was Darwin wrong?  Don’t be a chicken; answer the question with logic and evidence.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_img6 June 2013 Johannesburg is the 20th fastest growing city in the world in terms of international visitor growth rates between 2009 and 2013, according to the latest MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. According to the index, released last month, a projected 2.54-million international visitors will visit Johannesburg in 2013 – 53.6% more than in 2009 – injecting around US$2.7-billion into the city’s economy. These numbers place South Africa’s financial and industrial hub top of the African city rankings for expected visitor numbers in 2013, followed by Lagos, Cairo, Tunis and Casablanca. Cape Town was ranked 9th in Africa, and Durban 12th. However, Africa’s cities lag far behind their international competitors: only Johannesburg (42nd) and Lagos (49th) make the top 50, and both are far off the traffic and revenue expected to be generated by the top five cities in 2013. Bangkok, in top spot, is expected to receive 15.98-million visitors, followed by London (15.96-million visitors), Paris (13.9m), Singapore (11.7m) and New York (11.5m). “A noticeable trend in this year’s report was the dominance of the Asia/Pacific region,” MasterCard said in a statement. “Of the 132 cities ranked, 42 are Asian countries. Bangkok is followed by Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, and five of the top 10 in 2013 are in the Greater China region.” MasterCard was upbeat on the state of international travel, saying it was growing strongly despite the persistent weakness of the global economy, and that the world’s most important destination cities stood to benefit hugely from this trend. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more