Thursday, September 10, 2009

Geo news.(record-breaking hot-air balloon flight, computer pen and scientific facts about elephants and songbirds).

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A new record for hot-air ballon travel, invention of a computer pen called SmartQuill and a research finding about songbirds' brain are presented. Meanwhile, the National Park Service is proposing to ban the use of watercraft in certain national lakes and seashores.

Full Text :COPYRIGHT 1999 National Geographic Society

Super Writer

Grab hold of a pen with the write stuff. SmartQuill (artist's view, above), still in development in the UNITED KINGDOM, is a handheld computer shaped like a pen. To use it, you don't need a keyboard. Instead, simply write with it on any flat surface - or even in thin air! SmartQuill translates your handwriting into typed text, which appears on the pen's small screen. SmartQuill can also be connected to a personal computer to send e-mail.


Still Waters for National Parks

Water scooters and other personal watercraft can go fast, make noise, and harm animals and plants in shallow water. To preserve scenery and wildlife, the National Park Service (NPS) is proposing to restrict use of personal watercraft at certain national seashores, lakeshores, and recreation areas, and to ban such use at other national park units. Drivers, NPS says, often operate the scooters in an aggressive way that disturbs or even endangers people boating, swimming, and fishing. NPS hopes that allowing the vehicles only in designated areas will protect people and the wilderness. Scooter owners say the proposal is too tough; environmentalists say it isn't tough enough.


Rock-a-bye, Birdie

Songbirds may hear their own songs even while they sleep. What's more, the sounds they hear during sleep help young birds review songs they learned from their parents during the day. In a University of Chicago lab in CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, Professor Daniel Margoliash recorded electrical impulses in the brains of zebra finches, songbirds like the ones above. He found that the region of the brain involved in singing was active, not quiet, when the birds slept. "These results were a surprise," says Margoliash.

Record Breakers


They traveled more than 29,000 miles in 20 days without leaving their aircraft - a 16 1/2-by-7-foot hot-air balloon gondola equipped with bunks, toilet, and satellite telephones. Their amazing journey at more than 38,000 feet up took them from the SWISS ALPS to the EGYPTIAN DESERT. When their trip ended, Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland and Brian Jones of the United Kingdom were record setters, the first to circle the globe nonstop in a balloon. Satellite weather monitoring helped them catch the best wind patterns. And insulation in their $2 million craft helped them save fuel. For good luck they carried a book once owned by Jules Verne, author of Around the World in Eighty Days.

Critter Corner


Kui Buri National Park in THAILAND (see map) is home to two herds of endangered Asian elephants. The animals usually find the food they need in the park's forests. But more and more land is being cleared in those forests to grow pineapples. Elephants have begun raiding the farms and eating the fruit. Farmers claim the animals destroy one-fifth of their crop. After farmers killed three elephants in 1998, Thai environmentalists came up with a plan they hope will lure the elephants away from farmland. Workers are dumping tons of pineapples and other fruits along elephant routes. They're also digging deep water holes for the elephants and will grow food plants just for them, too. The goal, park chief Bunlue Poonnil says, is "to help elephants and farmers co-exist."

Source Citation:Agnone, Julie. "Geo news." National Geographic World 287 (July 1999): 5(1). InfoTrac Diversity Studies eCollection. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 10 Sept. 2009

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