June 14, 2013

    Photo: Kyle Dickman

Black Forest Blaze Most Destructive in Colorado History

379 homes destroyed, two dead

Firefighters battling the Black Forest wildfire in Colorado say the blaze has surpassed last June's Waldo Canyon fire as the most destructive in the state's history. The blaze has taken two lives and destroyed 379 homes, while last year's fire burned 347 homes and took two lives.

Officials report that the fire is now 5 percent contained. "So, not much progress," Rich Harvey, the commander of the federal incident-management team that took over firefighting duties early Thursday, told The Denver Post. "We've got a ways to go." Firefighters managed to prevent the blaze from moving south and crews are have more success as it moves north and into more grassy areas.

In a setback, the fire lurched toward a large community of homes on the western edge of the blaze. Despite an aerial assault from slurry bombers, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mayor Steve Bach issued a new evacuation order for areas inside the city limits. The total evacuation zone for the fire reached 24 square miles with 38,000 people displaced Thursday night.


    Photo: pkorsmok/Flickr

South Dakota Sioux Announce Wind Project

Will generate enough energy to power Denver

Leaders from six Sioux groups announced today that they plan to build a massive wind farm on tribal land in South Dakota. Speaking at the annual Clinton Global Initiative  America meeting in Chicago, representatives from the Cheyenne River, Oglala, Crow Creek, Rosebud, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and Yankton Sioux tribes said that the planned development would generate between one and two gigawatts of power annually and could pour as much as $3 billion into South Dakota's economy.

The tribes plan to raise raise initial funding via a campaign on Rally.org, and will finance the rest of the project through the sale of bonds. "The Sioux Wind Project will demonstrate that community-support and community-funding can help push renewable-energy projects forward," Rally CEO Tom Serres said in a press release.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, nearly 24% of South Dakota's power came from wind in 2012, more than any state except for Iowa.


    Photo: Tim Evanson/Flickr

Ancient Fish Had Better Abs Than You

Didn’t even work out

Paleontologists couldn’t help but admire the abdominal muscles found in a remarkably well-preserved 380-million-year-old fossilized fish. The fearsome placoderm possessing the abs in question is the first fish known to have those kinds of muscles.

“We didn’t expect these fish to have abdominal muscles, they’re the abs that people have,” said Flinders University paleontologist John Long. In fact, all living four-legged animals have abs to hold their bellies in, but fish have no need; the water does all that work for them.

But the armored, strong-jawed placoderm may have benefited from this unique feature. Scientists speculate that abs could have helped steady the placoderm’s body and armor as it swam, making the shark-like predator an excellent swimmer.

Scientists are excited to study the fossil further and figure out exactly what the abdominal muscles were used for. Perhaps the most excited is Per Ahlberg of Uppsala University, who marveled, “This thing has a corset worthy of Roger Moore in his later James Bond films.” What a fish.


    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

91-Year-Old Breaks Bench Press Record

Lifts 187.2 pounds, humiliates everyone

A 91-year-old man set a new World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters record Saturday when he bench pressed 187.2 pounds at the National Push-Pull Bench Press and Dead Lift Championships. Sy Perlis, of Surprise, Arizona, shattered the old association record of 135 pounds that had been in place since 2005.

Perlis, who only began lifting competitively five years ago, has already won the state title in 2009 and world titles in 2010 and 2011 in the 181-pound weight class. Under traditional association guidelines, competitors are only allowed a total of three lifts. On Saturday, Perlis was allowed to do five.

"We've had a lot of lifters in their middle 80s, late 80s and occasionally we get one 90 and over,” said association president Gus Rethwisch, “But they've never inspired people [like Perlis has].”