Friday, May 22, 2009

Complete Primate Skeleton From the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology

There is PLoS ONE report, with photos, for the Darwinius masillae fossil, known as the Ida fossil or "missing link". It is titled Complete Primate Skeleton From the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology. Darwinius masillae represents the most complete fossil primate ever found, including both skeleton, soft body outline and contents of the digestive tract.

Time has a more readable account of this find at Ida: Humankind's Earliest Ancestor! (Not Really).

From the article:

The best European locality for complete Eocene mammal skeletons is Grube Messel, near Darmstadt, Germany. Although the site was surrounded by a para-tropical rain forest in the Eocene, primates are remarkably rare there, and only eight fragmentary specimens were known until now. Messel has now yielded a full primate skeleton. The specimen has an unusual history: it was privately collected and sold in two parts, with only the lesser part previously known. The second part, which has just come to light, shows the skeleton to be the most complete primate known in the fossil record.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Apollo 40th Anniversary

NASA is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Program with an Apollo 40th Anniversary site. It allows online visitors to relive each mission with video, photos, and a unique animated comic. It also has information about Moon Trees and NASA's future Moon exploration plans.

From the site:

It all started on May 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending astronauts to the moon before the end of the decade. Coming just three weeks after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space, Kennedy's bold challenge set the nation on a journey unlike any before in human history.

Eight years of hard work by thousands of Americans came to fruition on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and took "one small step" in the Sea of Tranquility, calling it "a giant leap for mankind."

Six of the missions -- Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 -- went on to land on the moon, studying soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismic, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields and solar wind. Apollos 7 and 9 tested spacecraft in Earth orbit; Apollo 10 orbited the moon as the dress rehearsal for the first landing. An oxygen tank explosion forced Apollo 13 to scrub its landing, but the "can-do" problem solving of the crew and mission control turned the mission into a "successful failure."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Kansas Collection

If you are interested in Kansas history, check out the The Kansas Collection. It presents works on Kansas including Cutler's History of the State of Kansas and the Kansas Historical Quarterly. It also has first-person accounts and reminiscences. of local history.

From the site:

KanColl is searchable! Now you can search only KanColl, or just a category, such as Cutler's History of the State of Kansas or the Kansas Historical Quarterlies. Use double quotemarks, wildcards, or ask the engine to match all words. Or just type in what you're looking for and go! The Kansas Collection website is managed by Susan Stafford and Dick Taylor and was created by Lynn H. Nelson, retired Professor of History at the University of Kansas.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Failure to Modernize: The Origins of 20th Century Islamic Fundamentalism

Why has Islamic culture fallen behind the rest of the Western world? Why has it not modernized? The Concord Review has an essay dealing with this titled A Failure to Modernize: The Origins of 20th Century Islamic Fundamentalism. It was written by Tyler Waywell.

From the article:

At the height of the Islamic Empire, the Muslim community was a world leader in both economic status and militarys trength. However, the Islamic world’s failure to modernize its cultural, political, and economic systems has resulted in widespread financial ruin. The inability of the Muslim world to compete in the globalized economy has resulted in chronic povertyand illiteracy, creating conditions in which frustrated youth are willing to embrace new and radical ideologies with the goal of instituting significant change in their societies. Augmented by a history of Western imperialism and aggression upon Muslim lands, modern fundamentalism has grown out of a belief that in order to correct the economic failures that plague the Islamic world, Muslims must disregard all Western influences and return both culturally and spiritually to a time when Islamic society was most dominant.