January 21, 2013

Solo sailboat voyages have become more common, but no less dangerous.     Photo: Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

Circumnavigator Rescued After Days Adrift

Cruise ship saves sailor

A French sailor was rescued from treacherous seas about 500 nautical miles off the coast of Tasmania Monday morning. Sixty-three-year-old Alain Delord, who was attempting to sail around the world solo, said a massive wave hit his boat, the Tchouk Tchouk Nougaton, and snapped his mast in four pieces. He ended up spending three days in a life raft in freezing temperatures and 20-foot waves.

The MV Orion, the luxury cruise ship that saved him, was on a journey to Antarctica when Australian authorities asked it to divert its course to save the Frenchman. The ship went 1,100 miles and 50 hours off course to find him.

Delord's website says he was sailing the route of the round-the-world Vendée Globe yacht race, and that he had already been at sea three months. He was not an official competitor.

Via Global Post

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Neanderthal statue.     Photo: hairymuseummatt/Flickr

Harvard Prof. Looking for Neanderthal Surrogate for Cloning Experiment

Needs an "adventurous female"

A Harvard genetics professor says that he could clone a Neanderthal baby from fossil DNA—assuming he could find a woman willing to carry it to term. George Church told German magazine Der Spiegel that he already had the necessary raw material. "I have already managed to attract enough DNA from fossil bones to reconstruct the DNA of the human species largely extinct. Now I need an adventurous female human," he said.

If you're questioning whether it's really a good idea to revive a species that competed with homo sapiens for territory, you're not alone. Cloning humans for reproductive purposes is illegal in Britain, Canada, Australia, and 13 U.S. states, and is widely considered unethical among geneticists.

But Church argues that Neanderthals could have a different way of thinking that might benefit humanity in an apocalyptic event.

When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet or whatever, it’s conceivable that their way of thinking could be beneficial. They could maybe even create a new neo-Neanderthal culture and become a political force. The main goal is to increase diversity. The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity.

Or they could take over, become the dominant race, and hunt us for sport. Or whatever.

Via The Telegraph

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BPA Alternative Just as Bad as BPA

BPS also disrupts hormones

Remember all the fuss over bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical compound used in a wide array of consumer products that was shown to disrupt hormones and cause birth defects? Well, new research by scientists at the University of Texas strongly suggests that the alternative compound designed to replace BPA, bisphenol S (BPS), may have exactly the same effects.

Researchers exposed rats to low levels of BPS, similar to those that humans may encounter, and found that just like with BPA, the compound disturbed the body’s ability to process the hormone estrogen. 

Both BPS and BPA are used in everything from hard plastic water bottles to thermal paper used for cash register receipts. Nearly everyone in the world has been exposed at some point. According to a study released last year, 93 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their urine. Hooray for science.

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    Photo: Jake Spurlock/Flickr

92-Year-Old Still Skiing (More Days Than You) in Maine

Planning 46-plus ski days this winter

Ed Hendrickson skis in jeans, but we’re giving him a free pass. The 92-year-old former navy pilot and instructional-arts teacher has skied 24 days so far this winter and hopes to eclipse the 46 days he notched last season. Most of his days are spent at local Hermon Mountain in Hermon, Maine, but he’s also planning a trip out to Park City, Utah, later this winter.

Hendrickson stopped skiing for a time around age 65, when his wife, Eiffe, was no longer able to join him. "I didn’t feel it right to keep skiing and her not," he said, "So I quit skiing right then." After 62 years of marriage, Eiffe passed away in 2007, and Hendrickson took up the sport again at the age of 88. (No excuses, nonagenarians: he's also started using Facebook and owns a smartphone.)

"I’ll hold on as long as I can," he said. "I don’t know what I’ll do if I have to stop skiing. Go crazy, I guess."

There's a great video of Hendrickson in action at Bangor Daily News.

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