Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Biggest Snakes Ever Recorded

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to learn about some of the largest snakes know to man.

Snakes are mysterious but venomous creatures that are found all over the world. There are several types of species which are described categorically depending on their venom or length. Below are the top 10 longest snakes recorded so far. They are longer than most snakes, ranging in length from 3 to 9 meter. This makes them notable amongst their kind.

1. Indigo snakes are large snakes that can reach over 3 meters. Their scales are smooth and come in many colour variations, including a lush blue black colour.

2. Diamondback Rattlesnakes grow up to 3.9 feet in length. However, some have been recorded of being over 4.9 feet, the longest every documented was a whopping 6.99 feet. Males are much bigger than the females, however, this size difference does not happen until after they have reached maturity.

3. The Brown Snakes venom is said to be the second most toxic venom in the world, the first being the Australian Inland Tiapan. Bites from the Brown Snake will cause fatalities within minutes, not days, with even new bornes delivering enough venom to kill up to 20 adults.

4. Bushmasters vary in length ranging from 6.5 to 8.25 feet, although some have been seen up to 10 feet. The largest ever recorded was under 12 feet, making it the longest venomous snake within the Western Hemisphere.

5. The Boa constrictor is a big snake, however, only modestly compared to other snakes like the reticulated and Burmese python, and have been know to leach lengths from 3 to 3 feet depending on the area and food.

6. The king cobra is the daddy of all venomous snake, reaching up to 18.5 feet. This species usually preys upon other snakes, is found mostly in forests from India through to South east Asia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

7. Diamond python, is a medium to large snake, usually located around coastal areas and south eastern Australia. They are also found at higher altitudes than other species of Australian python.

8. Reticulated python is found in South east Asia. Adults have been known to grow over 28 feet in length, but on average 10 20 feet. They are the world’s longest snakes, but not the most heavy. Like most pythons, they are non venomous and are not usually considered dangerous to people. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?

Welcome back my fellow learners, there are many speculations on what exactly happened to the dinosaurs, today we are going to look more in-depth into this mystery.

There have been many theories on what wiped out the Goliath of old, from volcanoes to earthquakes or even asteroids. However, the most favoured was a mammoth comet or asteroid that was approximately 6 to 12 miles wide hit the region which is now a part of eastern Mexico, which at the time was still submerged under water.

The impact of this is thought to have cloaked the earth in darkness for several months, this was mostly because of the vast amounts of dust which was flung into the atmosphere. A global fire wiped out nearly half of every living thing. Water would have been turned poisonous in many places, and the earth went into deep freeze while the dust was circulating the air.

However, some plants and animals were hardy enough to make it, such as insects, fish, frogs, crocodiles, birds, turtles, and even mammoths.

This could have been only a series of changes which helped wipe out the dinosaurs. Before the object hit the planet, massive volcanic eruptions made the earth's climate change. Around the same time, the sea levels dropped drastically, creating new land bridges, changing the ocean currents, thus affecting the climate. These changes more than likely reduced the dinosaurs ability to adapt, and the impact from the object was the final death toll.

The ones which survived these changes dominated the landscape. Mammals grew bigger in size, and migrated to new areas, taking over areas which had been previously the habitat of dinosaurs.

Changes in the ocean currents and sea levels also brought new climate changes. Massive ice sheets began covering large portions of the earth on a regular basis. These swings in climate also had a major effect on the habitat of animals.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Food Which Is Actually Bad For You

Welcome back my fellow learners. Today I thought I would talk about what food is doing to our planet.

We all know what types of food is bad for you, and people know to eat them in moderation to remain healthy. But, there are several foods which are bad for Mother Earth's health.

Rice is the huge calorie source for over half the world’s population, however, growing it accounts for nearly one third of the earth's annual freshwater. Luckily, new farming techniques called System of Rice Intensification has been created which allows farmers to produce nearly 50% more rice using less water.

Genetically modified foods
As with most health risks, it’s not likely that all the potential environmental harm of genetically modified foods have been seen yet, however, there are some concerns on GMOs.

Lower level of biodiversity, by ensuring a crop is resistant to pests, the food source for other animals may be taken away, and the addition of foreign genes in plants may be toxic and dangerous to animals which consume the plant.
Spread of altered genes, novel genes in crops don't stay in agricultural fields. The can spread via pollen and share their genetically altered genes with unmodified plants.

Creation of new diseases, some of these foods are modified with the help of bacteria and viruses, this means they may adapt and make new diseases.

Over 145 millions tons of sugar is made in 121 countries every year, and production such as this is taking its toll on Mother Earth. Sugar could be responsible for biodiversity loss than any crop, due to its intensive use of water and pesticides, and polluted waste water which is discharged in the production process. Thousands of acres of Florida Everglades have been destroyed after years of sugar cane farming, subtropical forests are lifeless marshland after too much fertilizer run off and irrigation drainage. Water around the Great Barrier Reef has suffered due to the quantities of pesticides and sediment discharged from sugar farms.

So there you have it my lovelies, next time you reach for the sugar, remember what you have read here and think!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Why We Must Stop Cruelty to Animals Worldwide

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to talk about a topic which is close to my heart, and that is cruelty to animals on a worldwide scale.

Puppy mills are a huge commercial dog breeding operation which place more priority on profits than on the health of the pups. Several dogs come with many illnesses such as kidney or heart disease because of the horrendous conditions they’re put in.

Every year, thousands of young, healthy Greyhounds are slaughtered just because they don't have the racing potential, or are injured when racing and can no longer be competitive. Dogfighting became popular in the United States after the Civil War, with professional dog pits proliferating in the 1860s. This became an inhumane source of entertainment for believe it or not police officers and firemen. Even today dogfighting is still around in urban, suburban, and rural settings all over the country.

Over 50% of fur in the U.S. comes in from China, there are no penalties for animal abuse, and these sad animals are reared and kept in unbearably cramped and run-down cages for all their lives just waiting for death to come.

It’s been 900 to 2,000 cases every year about animal hoarding in the United States alone, with 250,000 animals falling victim to this. Over 100 million mice, rats, cats, dogs, monkeys, rabbits, birds, to name but a few are massacred in United States labs due to chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing each year.

It’s been estimated that there are 900 to 2,000 new cases every year of animal hoarding in the US, with 250,000 animals falling victim. Over 100 million animals – mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, birds, among others – are killed in U.S. laboratories for chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing every year.

Every circus which has animals has been cited for violations by the United States Animal Welfare every year. Most rodeo events create stressful environments for domesticated and docile animals. Participants use harsh handling practices to ensure animals will perform.

The exotic pet trade has been steadily growing in the United States for many years. And while some are bred in captivity, most are abducted from their native habitat. The stress of being removed causes millions to die prematurely.

On a personal note, there will come a time in human history when there are no animals left, and they will only be remembered by pictures. Why does the human race persist in torturing these poor defenceless creatures for sport or for a new tube of lipstick? Its time to wake up people and realise we are systematically wiping out the animal kingdom.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Why America Is Fighting A Losing Battle On Drugs

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to learn why the USA is losing the war on drugs

In 1971 President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs. The thought then was drug trafficking within the United States would be reduced greatly in a short period of time through federal policing, which as we all know folks is total bollocks. The cost has been great not only in lives, but money and the health of thousands of Americans, mostly the poor and not so well educated. Which begs the question, if the USA maintain that it is due to the poor that the rise in drugs has continued, how they hell can they afford drugs, if they are so poor?

The monetary cost to the American taxpayers because of this legendary war on drugs includes the police, court personnel used to convict drug users and traffickers, and guards and other resources spent on prisons and punishing people that are convicted of drug offences. The total current cost of this is an estimated $40 billion a year.

These don't include other harmful effects that are hard to quantify. For instance, over the last 40 years the amount of students that have dropped out of high school has remained big, around 25%. Drop out rates are not so high for middle class white children, but are extremely high for black and Hispanic children that live in poor areas. Many factors explain the drop out rates, especially crappy schools and poor family support. But another vital factor in city neighbourhoods is the need to drop out of school to profit from the drug trade.

The total amount of people incarcerated in prisons in the U.S. has risen from 330,000 in 1980 to around 1.6 million as from today. Much of this increase is directly connected to the war on drugs and the punishment for people that are convicted of drug trafficking. About 50% of the inmates have been convicted of selling or using drugs. The minor drug traffickers and drug users that go to jail find less opportunities for employment after they are released from prison.

However, I just want to add a personal note, when you compare the likes of the USA to smaller places like Amsterdam for example, who by the way have made a lot of drugs now legal. When you compare their jail inmate percentages to America's it is actually quite startling. Which begs the question, which country is doing it right?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Why Were People Wrapped As Mummies?

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to find out why people were wrapped as mummies.

Many cultures used to use mummification, or preservation of dead bodies. Other civilizations have created mummies, some before the legendary Egyptians. Research has shown that Incas carried their dead to mountains in Peru, this was done to preserve the bodies using the dryness and cold. The body of Lady Cheng the Chinese aristocrat, which is over 2,000 years old, was immersed in embalming fluid to be preserved, which makes her the best preserved mummy known to man. In northern Chile, more than 2,000 years before Egyptians did mummification, the Chinchorro people perserved their dead and kept them in households like statues to remember them before burial.

The first mummies are thought to be as early as 5600 B.C. in Chile, where a layer of clay was used on the bodies. Mummification in Egypt started around 4000 B.C., and peaked from the16th and 10th century B.C. The more elaborate mummification were used only on influential people like the Pharaohs. Other cultures which performed mummification are the ancient Guanches in the Canary Islands, the Ethiopians and the Incas of the Andes Mountains. The practice has been found amongst primitive African people and in the Aleutian Islands.

The most interesting finding amongst all the ancient practices for burial, preserving and honouring the dead is how some cultures took advantage of Mother Nature. The Chinchorro people used their mummification process using their dry desert climate. A British archaeologist found Bronze Age mummies in an out of the way Scottish isle which had been preserved using acids that are naturally found in the island's peat bogs. The skin stayed in a leathery state, however, the bones had completely eroded due to the acidic chemicals found in the bog.

Even though other cultures were mummifying their loved ones, it was the ancient Egyptians who truly mastered this art. And although the word mummy comes from an Arabic word which means bitumen, the Egyptians didn't actually use this in their mummification methods.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Origins Of The Fountain Pen

Welcome back my fellow learners, I don't know about you, but when I was growing up having a fountain pen was a symbol of wealth and standing. Even though mine used to be an old plastic one, and regularly leaked onto my school books, using it always made me feel superior.

The modern fountain pen has it roots taken from the simple quill, which was originally made from goose tail feathers, at least it was in Western history. But save me from writing pages and pages on this, let’s move forward to the fountain pen as we know it today. Traditionally they come with a nib, a feed and an reservoir for ink. Beginning in the 1850s there was a steady stream of fountain pen patents in production. In the 1870s a Canadian living in New York City known as Duncan MacKinnon, and Alonzo T. Cross of Providence, Rhode Island designed stylographic pens that had a hollow tubular type nib and a wire which acted as a valve. Today, stylographic pens are used for drafting and technical drawing, but in 1875, these were popular writing instruments. It was only after three important inventions were made, that the fountain pen became a popular writing device. Those inventions were iridium tipped gold nibs, hard rubber, and ink which was free flowing.

While the oldest recorded fountain pen is still around today, and was created by a Frenchman called M. Bion in 1702, the first fountain pen was actually patented in 1884 by Lewis Edson Waterman. Legend says that Waterman, who was a 45 year-old insurance salesman, had an appointment with an important client for a major insurance policy. On the way to this meeting, he decided to purchase one of the new fountain pens which had come on the market. His client agreed to take the policy, however, when Waterman gave him the pen, all it did was blot, and so no signature, no policy. However, this is probably just an old advertising lore.

So there you have it my lovelies, my very short version on fountain pens.