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A newborn giraffe, on the very first day, looking at the world without fear, but innocent curiosity

new giraffe calf born January 26, 2009

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SAN FRANCISCO -- A reticulated giraffe calf was born at the San Francisco Zoo on Jan. 26, and both mother and calf appear to be doing well, zoo officials announced. The calf was born sometime between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and was standing on all fours and appeared to be healthy today, zookeepers said. "The calf appears to be really strong and was getting up and down on its own," said Ingrid Russell-White, curator of mammals at the zoo.

It was nursing about every 30 minutes today and appeared well-hydrated, Russell-White said. Its mother, Bititi, was showing a strong nurturing instinct and gently nudging the youngster to show it how to nurse, according to zoo officials.

Momma Bititi gives baby giraffe a kiss

They have also been keeping another female giraffe nearby to help keep Bititi calm, Russell-White said. Zookeepers are hoping the second female, Kristin, will pick up a few tips from Bititi, Russell-White said, because keepers suspect she may be pregnant as well. The calf is Bititi's second. Her first, a male named Bulldozer, was born July 11, 2007. The newborn is its father Floyd's fifth offspring.

Giraffes have a 14-to 15-month gestation period and calves can be up to 6 feet tall at birth. Female giraffes give birth standing up, their calves facing a daunting, 6-foot drop into the world. The newcomer is the fifth giraffe to be born at the zoo since 2004.

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Photos courtesy of SF Zoo / Flicker  read more »

Happy Lunar New Year! Especially to those born or to be born in the Year of the Ox

Happy Lunar New Year! Year of the Ox

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The Ox is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work. This powerful sign is a born leader, being quite dependable and possessing an innate ability to achieve great things. As one might guess, such people are dependable, calm, and modest. Like their animal namesake, the Ox is unswervingly patient, tireless in their work, and capable of enduring any amount of hardship without complaint.

Ox people need peace and quiet to work through their ideas, and when they have set their mind on something it is hard for them to be convinced otherwise. An Ox person has a very logical mind and is extremely systematic in whatever they do, though they have a tremendous imagination and an unparalleled appreciation for beauty. These people speak little but are extremely intelligent. When necessary, they are articulate and eloquent.

People born under the influence of the Ox are kind, caring souls, logical, positive, filled with common sense and with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Security is their main preoccupation in life, and they are prepared to toil long and hard in order to provide a warm, comfortable and stable nest for themselves and their families. Strong-minded, stubborn, individualistic, the majority are highly intelligent individuals who don't take kindly to being told what to do.

The Ox works hard, patiently, and methodically, with original intelligence and reflective thought. These people enjoy helping others. Behind this tenacious, laboring, and self-sacrificing exterior lies an active mind. The Ox is not extravagant, and the thought of living off credit cards or being in debt makes them nervous. The possibility of taking a serious risk could cause the Ox sleepless nights.  read more »

10 questions for Viggo Mortensen, Golden Globe and Academy Award-nominated actor and renaissance man

Viggo Mortensen is a Golden Globe and Academy Award-nominated American actor

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You've explored poetry, painting, photography and music in addition to acting. Which is your favorite? Arielle Davis, NEW YORK CITY

I don't really separate them. To be an artist, you don't have to compose music or paint or be in the movies or write books. It's just a way of living. It has to do with paying attention, remembering, filtering what you see and answering back, participating in life.

You're famous for your multilingual talents. Which language are you most comfortable with? A. Patrick Watts MARYVILLE, TENN.

I was raised speaking English and Spanish. And I also speak Danish. And I can get by in French and Italian. I've acted in Spanish and English, but when something has to do with emotions, sometimes I feel I can get to the heart of the matter better in Spanish.

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in the movie Lord of the Rings – Return of the King

You're quite a renaissance man. Do you see a little of yourself in Frank Hopkins?  read more »

25 years of innovation: Apple's unveiling of the first Macintosh forever changed the future of personal computing

proud of his company's creations, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs shows off the original Macintosh as it was launched in January 1984

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The Macintosh - the first to bear the name - turns 25 on 24 January. The machine debuted in 1984 and kicked off a product line that were Apple's flagship computers for many years.

The Macintosh helped popularize the combination of graphical interface and mouse that is ubiquitous today. It had a revolutionary all-in-one design, and crucially, used a graphical user interface to navigate around, rather than text commands. This enabled the Apple Macintosh to cross the species barrier – everyday users could now use the computer, rather than just geeks au fait with scripting and coding. Indeed, the $2,495 price tag was perhaps the only barrier to entry.

while tiny netbooks get much of the attention today, Apple decided to go wider but thin with its MacBook Air, which can fit inside a manila envelope

The mouse input system and simple GUI enabled users to carry out a range of tasks that had been impossible on other computers. The Apple Macintosh came bundled with two software programs, MacWrite and MacPaint, signalling the birth of word processing and desktop publishing. With just 128KB of memory and a sloth-like 8MHz processor, the Apple Macintosh is woefully underpowered by today’s standards, but was cutting edge at the time.  read more »

New evidence of climate change: Antarctica warmed over 1°F over last 50 years, not cooling as previously thought

this illustration depicts the warming that scientists have determined has occurred in West Antarctica during the last 50 years, with dark red showing the area that has warmed the most

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The Antarctic Peninsula juts into the Southern Ocean, reaching farther north than any other part of the continent. The southernmost reach of global warming was believed to be limited to this narrow strip of land, while the rest of the continent was presumed to be cooling or stable.

Not so, according to a new analysis involving NASA data. In fact, the study has confirmed a trend suspected by some climate scientists. "Everyone knows it has been warming on the Antarctic Peninsula, where there are lots of weather stations collecting data," said Eric Steig, a climate researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, and lead author of the study. "Our analysis told us that it is also warming in West Antarctica."

Antarctica long term temperature trends

The finding is the result of a novel combination of historical temperature data from ground-based weather stations and more recent data from satellites. Steig and colleagues used data from each record to fill in gaps in the other and to reconstruct a 50-year history of surface temperatures across Antarctica.  read more »

Obama takes office with call to remake nation with ideals of the Founding Fathers and "choose our better history"

Barack Obama, joined by his wife Michelle, takes oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts to become the 44th president of the United States at the US Capitol in Washington

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama was inaugurated yesterday as the 44th president of the United States, seizing the historic moment to invoke the "price and the promise of citizenship" and demand the participation of all Americans in restoring the country to greatness. He took the oath of office on Abraham Lincoln's Bible before a sea of more than 1 million people that stretched from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. He struck a solemn tone in warning of the challenges and sacrifices that lie ahead. Comparing the economic crisis and fight against terrorism to the trials faced by the Founding Fathers, Obama implored his fellow citizens to join him "in the work of remaking America."

President Barack Obama giving his inaugural address to the millions assembled spectators

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord," Obama said, his voice reverberating throughout the National Mall. "Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end - that we did not turn back, nor did we falter."  read more »

From car to aircraft in 15 seconds: 'roadable' plane Terrafugia Transition is a flying car that fits in the garage

the Terrafugia Transition, from car to aircraft in 15 seconds

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The fantasy of spy novels and science fiction films is at last becoming reality with a vehicle that can turn from car to aircraft in 15 seconds

It is the ultimate off-roader and it is coming to an airstrip near you. The Terrafugia Transition is a two-seater plane that at the touch of a button converts into a road-legal car. It takes its maiden flight next month and is scheduled to hit the showrooms by next year. “It’s like a little Transformer,” says Carl Dietrich, the Terrafugia boss, proudly. “This is the first really integrated design where the wings fold up automatically and all the parts are in one vehicle. All we have is one simple folding wing, and that means the Transition takes just 15 seconds to switch between flying and driving.”

the Terrafugia Transition is ‘roadable’ when the wings fold against the body, accordion style

The Terrafugia Transition is a light sport airplane with four wheels and foldable wings that span 27.5ft when extended. It can soar up through the skies just like a regular aircraft then land on the ground, fold up its two wings and drive down the road at highway speeds. Measuring 19 feet long, it has an airborne range of 460 miles and can cruise at 115mph. According to early reports, the plane uses unleaded gasoline - no rocket fuels necessary. It runs via the 100 horsepower four-stroke Rotax 912S engine.  read more »

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