Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian industrial relations legislation, 2005

According to initial estimates by New South Wales police and unions, 30,000 people have rallied at Blacktown Showground in Western Sydney to protest the federal government’s Workchoices workplace reforms. Organisers had expected around 15,000 protesters to attend.

The rally at Blacktown is one of many to be held around Australia today as part of a “National Day of Action” to “protect worker’s rights at work” according to unions.

The Blacktown rally saw masses of truck drivers, construction workers, teachers and police officers carrying banners and flags signalling their discontent at the federal government’s reforms.

Many of the workers were joined by their families, chanting to the federal government “Your workplace changes have to go.”

Speaking to protesters in Western Sydney, John Robertson, secretary of Unions New South Wales said the federal government had stripped away 100 years of worker’s rights.”These laws are direct attacks on hard-working Australians who are trying to pay off a home, provide for their kids’ futures and have a bit of economic security,” Mr Robertson said.

“It’s in the suburbs and regional Australia that the impact of these laws will be felt – stripping away job security, penalty rates, time with family and wage rates.”

The NSW Premier’s department has encouraged state government employees to attend the rallies to show their anger at the workplace reforms. As such, schools are mainly providing supervision today so parents can attend rallies, with many teachers also in attendance.

Employees of Australia Post, a company wholly owned by the federal government, have been warned that unauthorised absences will result in disciplinary action being taken.

Speaking earlier today, Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews said he expected most workers would not join the protests. “The reality is that most people are not going to do it because they know that we have delivered, as a government, a period of relative prosperity in Australia,” said Mr Andrews.

“Part of the way we have done that has been to have the courage to engage in the reforms so we can meet the challenges of the future.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

As gas prices have risen in the United States, the regional transport authority for southeastern Pennsylvania, SEPTA, has seen a sharp increase in ridership, which has caused overcrowding on the trains.

“As fuel prices have continued to rise, SEPTA ridership has steadily increased and is the highest in 18 years,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey. Monthly ridership was 22 percent higher last month than a year ago.

“They have crushed loads on their rail lines, already where people are standing, and there’s not enough seats,” said Rich Bickel, the director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

“At peak times some railcars are standing room only and commuter parking lots are nearly full. All Regional Rail lines are running near full capacity and the train station parking lots are at about 90 percent capacity or more,” SEPTA spokesperson Felipe Suarez said.

While SEPTA awaits new Silverliner V trains from Hyundai Rotem, which begin arriving in 2009, it had hoped to lease eight rail cars from New Jersey Transit, at an agreed-upon rate of US$10,000 per month. However, due to problems with insurance and liability indemnification, the deal fell through, according to Casey.

SEPTA has entered a new agreement to purchase the eight rail cars from NJ Transit. The transit authority will pay US$670,000 for the cars and assorted supplies plus one additional inoperative car which will be used for spare parts. The rail cars will be operated using a SEPTA provided locomotive as they are not self-propelled.

The cars are being disposed of by NJ Transit because it has switched from single-floor cars to double-decker cars.

SEPTA is expecting to raise US$3.1 million by selling rail that has been out of service since 1981 at auction.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Prior to the September 25 launch of “Halo 3” Microsoft Taiwan held “Mayday Fans Meeting” last Sunday (September 16) and “SBL Players Meeting” today, and set experiencing area at PAMC KMall in Taipei on continuous holidays of the Moon Festival (September 22 to 25).

A famous Taiwanese Band “Mayday” were invited by Microsoft Taiwan for the voice casting of “Halo 3” and they wrote a theme song named “Zhua Kuang (English Meaning: Crazy)” and produced its special MV with conjunction of “Halo 3” promotional videos. This special video is available before September 25 in the 5th Square of Station Front Metro Mall in Taipei.

Not only “Mayday Fans Meeting” at September 16, Microsoft Taiwan also invited Yulon Dinosaur Basketball Team players Hsueh-lin “Iverson” Li and Chih-chung “Virus” Chen have friendship matches with a 17-year-old girl player Shih-ching Wang. Ms. Wang showed her performance at the friendship matches with 3-straight-sets speedily winnings.

After the friendship matches, Microsoft Taiwan held a charity bidding event with a Xbox 360 console signed by Hsueh-lin Li and Chih-chung Chen and donated the charity earnings to Taiwan Fund for Children and Families. With the global launch of “Halo 3”, Microsoft Taiwan helped the disadvantaged and poor children with this charity bidding.

After the pre-launch series, Microsoft Taiwan will invite Ruru Wei-ru Lin at the launch day of “Halo 3” on September 25 at PAMC KMall in Taipei.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

The IAEA board has passed a resolution to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council. The decision by the 35-nation board came on Saturday.

The resolution was made without waiting for the director of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, to finish preparing a report on Iran’s civilian (and allegedly military) nuclear programs for the regular IAEA meeting scheduled for March 6. According to al-Jazeera, ElBaradei refused to accept pressure from Western states to finish his report in advance of the March 6 meeting. ElBaradei said in written responses to requests by the US and EU member states that he had given Iran until the meeting in March to answer questions to IAEA enquiries, stating, Due process, therefore, must take its course before [we are] able to submit a detailed report. ElBaradei also said that another IAEA verification mission was due in Iran shortly and that he had only in mid-January sent extra questions to Iran based on what diplomats called newly released intelligence.

The text of the resolution, made without the results of the report, which will only be ready in March, requires ElBaradei to report to the Security Council “steps Iran needs to take to dispel suspicions about its nuclear ambitions.”

The resolution states that there are serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. It also notes, “Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations,” (to the non-proliferation treaty) and expresses “the absence of confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.”

The resolution also states that Iran is to:

  • Re-establish a freeze on uranium enrichment and related activities;
  • Consider whether to stop construction of a heavy water reactor that could be the source of plutonium for weapons;
  • Formally ratify an agreement allowing the IAEA greater inspecting authority and continue honoring the agreement before it is ratified; and
  • Give the IAEA additional power in its investigation of Iran’s nuclear program, including “access to individuals” for interviews, as well as to documentation on its black-market nuclear purchases, equipment that could be used for nuclear and non-nuclear purposes and “certain military-owned workshops” where nuclear activities could take place

The resolution calling for the referral was apparently drafted by several members states of the European Union together with the United States. Political analyst Joshua Frank claims that the US is not interested in diplomatic means of limiting Iran’s possible shift towards nuclear weapons development and that the major reasons are Iran’s oil supplies and plans to open an International Oil Bourse in petroeuros, which would challenge the petrodollar, on March 20, 2006.

The agency vote sets the stage for future action by the top U.N. body. Russia and China insisted, in casting their votes with the majority, that future votes on deliberations should wait until at least March. The outcome could include economic and political sanctions. This process of successive escalation of the tension between Iran and the Western members of the Security Council was described by Hans Blix, responsible for about 700 inspections for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as spin and momentum. He was in favour of inducing Iran to forego enrichment but also recommended that the United States give a similar commitment not to attack Iran with either conventional or nuclear weapons, just as it apparently has to North Korea.

27 of the 35 nations on the board voted for the referral.

Three nations that voted against the resolution: Cuba, Syria and Venezuela. Five other countries Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa, abstained.

Learn more about weapons of mass destruction in UK, Iran, Israel, and Iraq on Wikipedia.

Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, a nuclear weapons state obliged under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to destroy its own, existing nuclear weapons, said that the IAEA vote showed “the international community’s determination to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”

After the decision, Iran said today that it would “immediately” begin the steps to “restart full-scale uranium enrichment” and “curtail” the powers of the IAEA inspectors.

Javad Vaeedi, deputy Iranian nuclear negotiator, said in a press conference after the vote, “After this decision, Iran has to immediately bring into force its parliamentary law to suspend voluntary implementation of (the watchdog agency’s) Additional Protocol (on snap inspections) and (pursue) commercial-scale enrichment which until today was under full suspension.” He also said, “this resolution is politically motivated since it is not based on legal or technical grounds.”

Iran has also said that a proposed deal by Moscow to enrich Iranian uranium is dead.

“There is no adequate reason to pursue the Russian plan,” said Vaeedi. “Commercial scale uranium enrichment will be resumed in Natanz in accordance with the law passed by the parliament.”

Iran had said that it will “end cooperation with IAEA”, if referred to the Security Council.

As of January 31, 2006, the Deputy Director General for Safeguards of the IAEA had reported that Iran has continued to facilitate access under its Safeguards Agreement as requested by the Agency, and to act as if the Additional Protocol is in force, including by providing in a timely manner the requisite declarations and access to locations.

Friday, April 28, 2017

In findings published Tuesday in Nature Communications, a team mostly from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia announced they have successfully created an artificial womb in which premature lambs can be brought to term. The researchers say this technology could develop into a means of helping premature human babies survive, but it has also drawn concern from bioethicists.

According to first author Emily Partridge and her team, previous efforts at creating an artificial womb have failed because the pumps used, to provide oxygen and nutrients to the developing animal, put too much stress on the heart, causing circulatory failure; and because they used open-fluid systems, which were easily exposed to germs. Partridge et al.’s system uses a closed-fluid apparatus, which they’ve called the Biobag. The sound of a maternal heartbeat was played in the room where the fetuses were kept.

The animals housed in the artificial womb showed normal blood gases and their lungs, brains and nervous systems showed normal development. They opened their eyes and grew wool. When they were removed from the circuit and dissected, their brains, lungs and other organs were found similar to those of lambs delivered by hysterotomy (Cesarean section) when nearly full term.

Although lambs often serve as an experimental model of fetal development, the researchers concede that not all of their findings can be translated to humans. While the lambs’ brains appeared healthy, they also develop certain traits much earlier than human brains, so not all of these effects may be attributable to the Biobag system.

The researchers also acknowledge the startling appearance of a fetus wrapped in plastic. “It is important to consider that the comparator is the extreme premature infant on a ventilator and in an incubator,” reads the official paper. “We feel that parents will be relatively reassured that their fetus is being maintained in a relatively protective and physiologic environment.”

One of the researchers, Dr. Alan Flake, also of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says the apparatus may be ready for testing on human babies in three to five years. The researchers noted premature birth is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, with about nine out of ten infants born at 23 weeks gestation or earlier suffering complications such as mental retardation, deafness, blindness, paralysis, and cerebral palsy. When a fetus is removed from the amniotic fluid and placed on a respirator, the shift from liquid to gas can cause the lungs to stop developing. The most common direct cause of death among premature infants is failure of the lungs to properly oxygenate the blood.

Bioethicist Dena Davis of Lehigh University notes this invention raises several ethical issues. “If it’s a difference between a baby dying rather peacefully and a baby dying under conditions of great stress and discomfort then, no, I don’t think it’s better,” she told National Public Radio. She also notes the problem of babies who would otherwise have died surviving with severe side effects and the implications that this has for the abortion debate: “Up to now, we’ve been either born or not born. This would be halfway born, or something like that.” Scott Gelfand of Oklahoma State University worries that women who would otherwise seek abortion could be pressured into putting their fetuses in Biobags instead or that employers would punish mothers who took maternity leave instead of using an artificial uterus.

“I want to make this very clear: We have no intention and we’ve never had any intention with this technology of extending the limits of viability further back,” Dr. Flake said in response to these issues. “I think when you do that you open a whole new can of worms.” He went on to call gestating fetuses younger than 23 weeks “a pipe dream at this point.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The automobile manufacturer Toyota has said that it will recall up to 1.8 million cars across Europe, after a problem with the accelerator pedal was discovered.

According to the firm, eight models were affected by the problem — AYGO, iQ, Yaris, Auris, Corolla, Verso, Avensis, and RAV4 — after it was discovered that the accelerator may become stuck in a depressed position, resulting in uncontrollable speeding.

On Thursday, Toyota said it would recall 1.1 million cars in the US; a day previous, it had suspended eight models from sales. Last week, 2.3 million cars in the US were recalled due to the pedal issues.

The chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe commented on the recall. “We understand that the current situation is creating concerns and we deeply regret it,” said Tadashi Arashima. The firm, however, noted that it wasn’t aware of any accidents resulted by the malfunctioning accelerator pedals, and not many pedal problem incidents were reported in Europe. “The potential accelerator pedal issue only occurs in very rare circumstances,” Arashima added.

The National Automobile Dealers Association, meanwhile, commented that Toyota showrooms could lose as much as US$2.47 billion worth of revenue due to the incident.

“Toyota veterans will likely hear the news with disbelief and keep faith in the brand, but new customers could definitely be scared off,” remarked Robert Rademacher, who is the president of the trade group ZDK, as quoted by Business Week. “This recall has a dimension which we’ve never seen before.”

There are concerns that the problem may result in reduced consumer trust in Toyota. Hans-Peter Wodniok, an analyst for Fairesearch GmbH & Co. in Germany, noted: “If this is a one-time event, huge as it is, Toyota may be forgiven. But if something happens again in the next months and years, they will have gambled away customer trust in Europe as well.”

Analysts for Morgan Stanley, however, said they believed Toyota would not suffer much from the incident. “The company’s actions to correct the situation are timely enough to avoid major brand damage,” they remarked in a note to investors.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Today sees the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland following a three-year renovation costing £47.4 million (US$ 77.3 million). Edinburgh’s Chambers Street was closed to traffic for the morning, with the 10am reopening by eleven-year-old Bryony Hare, who took her first steps in the museum, and won a competition organised by the local Evening News paper to be a VIP guest at the event. Prior to the opening, Wikinews toured the renovated museum, viewing the new galleries, and some of the 8,000 objects inside.

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Dressed in Victorian attire, Scottish broadcaster Grant Stott acted as master of ceremonies over festivities starting shortly after 9am. The packed street cheered an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex created by Millenium FX; onlookers were entertained with a twenty-minute performance by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on the steps of the museum; then, following Bryony Hare knocking three times on the original doors to ask that the museum be opened, the ceremony was heralded with a specially composed fanfare – played on a replica of the museum’s 2,000-year-old carnyx Celtic war-horn. During the fanfare, two abseilers unfurled white pennons down either side of the original entrance.

The completion of the opening to the public was marked with Chinese firecrackers, and fireworks, being set off on the museum roof. As the public crowded into the museum, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers resumed their performance; a street theatre group mingled with the large crowd, and the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex entertained the thinning crowd of onlookers in the centre of the street.

On Wednesday, the museum welcomed the world’s press for an in depth preview of the new visitor experience. Wikinews was represented by Brian McNeil, who is also Wikimedia UK’s interim liaison with Museum Galleries Scotland.

The new pavement-level Entrance Hall saw journalists mingle with curators. The director, Gordon Rintoul, introduced presentations by Gareth Hoskins and Ralph Applebaum, respective heads of the Architects and Building Design Team; and, the designers responsible for the rejuvenation of the museum.

Describing himself as a “local lad”, Hoskins reminisced about his grandfather regularly bringing him to the museum, and pushing all the buttons on the numerous interactive exhibits throughout the museum. Describing the nearly 150-year-old museum as having become “a little tired”, and a place “only visited on a rainy day”, he commented that many international visitors to Edinburgh did not realise that the building was a public space; explaining the focus was to improve access to the museum – hence the opening of street-level access – and, to “transform the complex”, focus on “opening up the building”, and “creating a number of new spaces […] that would improve facilities and really make this an experience for 21st century museum visitors”.

Hoskins explained that a “rabbit warren” of storage spaces were cleared out to provide street-level access to the museum; the floor in this “crypt-like” space being lowered by 1.5 metres to achieve this goal. Then Hoskins handed over to Applebaum, who expressed his delight to be present at the reopening.

Applebaum commented that one of his first encounters with the museum was seeing “struggling young mothers with two kids in strollers making their way up the steps”, expressing his pleasure at this being made a thing of the past. Applebaum explained that the Victorian age saw the opening of museums for public access, with the National Museum’s earlier incarnation being the “College Museum” – a “first window into this museum’s collection”.

Have you any photos of the museum, or its exhibits?

The museum itself is physically connected to the University of Edinburgh’s old college via a bridge which allowed students to move between the two buildings.

Applebaum explained that the museum will, now redeveloped, be used as a social space, with gatherings held in the Grand Gallery, “turning the museum into a social convening space mixed with knowledge”. Continuing, he praised the collections, saying they are “cultural assets [… Scotland is] turning those into real cultural capital”, and the museum is, and museums in general are, providing a sense of “social pride”.

McNeil joined the yellow group on a guided tour round the museum with one of the staff. Climbing the stairs at the rear of the Entrance Hall, the foot of the Window on the World exhibit, the group gained a first chance to see the restored Grand Gallery. This space is flooded with light from the glass ceiling three floors above, supported by 40 cast-iron columns. As may disappoint some visitors, the fish ponds have been removed; these were not an original feature, but originally installed in the 1960s – supposedly to humidify the museum; and failing in this regard. But, several curators joked that they attracted attention as “the only thing that moved” in the museum.

The museum’s original architect was Captain Francis Fowke, also responsible for the design of London’s Royal Albert Hall; his design for the then-Industrial Museum apparently inspired by Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace.

The group moved from the Grand Gallery into the Discoveries Gallery to the south side of the museum. The old red staircase is gone, and the Millennium Clock stands to the right of a newly-installed escalator, giving easier access to the upper galleries than the original staircases at each end of the Grand Gallery. Two glass elevators have also been installed, flanking the opening into the Discoveries Gallery and, providing disabled access from top-to-bottom of the museum.

The National Museum of Scotland’s origins can be traced back to 1780 when the 11th Earl of Buchan, David Stuart Erskine, formed the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; the Society being tasked with the collection and preservation of archaeological artefacts for Scotland. In 1858, control of this was passed to the government of the day and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland came into being. Items in the collection at that time were housed at various locations around the city.

On Wednesday, October 28, 1861, during a royal visit to Edinburgh by Queen Victoria, Prince-Consort Albert laid the foundation-stone for what was then intended to be the Industrial Museum. Nearly five years later, it was the second son of Victoria and Albert, Prince Alfred, the then-Duke of Edinburgh, who opened the building which was then known as the Scottish Museum of Science and Art. A full-page feature, published in the following Monday’s issue of The Scotsman covered the history leading up to the opening of the museum, those who had championed its establishment, the building of the collection which it was to house, and Edinburgh University’s donation of their Natural History collection to augment the exhibits put on public display.

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Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Closed for a little over three years, today’s reopening of the museum is seen as the “centrepiece” of National Museums Scotland’s fifteen-year plan to dramatically improve accessibility and better present their collections. Sir Andrew Grossard, chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “The reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, on time and within budget is a tremendous achievement […] Our collections tell great stories about the world, how Scots saw that world, and the disproportionate impact they had upon it. The intellectual and collecting impact of the Scottish diaspora has been profound. It is an inspiring story which has captured the imagination of our many supporters who have helped us achieve our aspirations and to whom we are profoundly grateful.

The extensive work, carried out with a view to expand publicly accessible space and display more of the museums collections, carried a £47.4 million pricetag. This was jointly funded with £16 million from the Scottish Government, and £17.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further funds towards the work came from private sources and totalled £13.6 million. Subsequent development, as part of the longer-term £70 million “Masterplan”, is expected to be completed by 2020 and see an additional eleven galleries opened.

The funding by the Scottish Government can be seen as a ‘canny‘ investment; a report commissioned by National Museums Scotland, and produced by consultancy firm Biggar Economics, suggest the work carried out could be worth £58.1 million per year, compared with an estimated value to the economy of £48.8 prior to the 2008 closure. Visitor figures are expected to rise by over 20%; use of function facilities are predicted to increase, alongside other increases in local hospitality-sector spending.

Proudly commenting on the Scottish Government’s involvement Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, described the reopening as, “one of the nation’s cultural highlights of 2011” and says the rejuvenated museum is, “[a] must-see attraction for local and international visitors alike“. Continuing to extol the museum’s virtues, Hyslop states that it “promotes the best of Scotland and our contributions to the world.

So-far, the work carried out is estimated to have increased the public space within the museum complex by 50%. Street-level storage rooms, never before seen by the public, have been transformed into new exhibit space, and pavement-level access to the buildings provided which include a new set of visitor facilities. Architectural firm Gareth Hoskins have retained the original Grand Gallery – now the first floor of the museum – described as a “birdcage” structure and originally inspired by The Crystal Palace built in Hyde Park, London for the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The centrepiece in the Grand Gallery is the “Window on the World” exhibit, which stands around 20 metres tall and is currently one of the largest installations in any UK museum. This showcases numerous items from the museum’s collections, rising through four storeys in the centre of the museum. Alexander Hayward, the museums Keeper of Science and Technology, challenged attending journalists to imagine installing “teapots at thirty feet”.

The redeveloped museum includes the opening of sixteen brand new galleries. Housed within, are over 8,000 objects, only 20% of which have been previously seen.

  • Ground floor
  • First floor
  • Second floor
  • Top floor

The Window on the World rises through the four floors of the museum and contains over 800 objects. This includes a gyrocopter from the 1930s, the world’s largest scrimshaw – made from the jaws of a sperm whale which the University of Edinburgh requested for their collection, a number of Buddha figures, spearheads, antique tools, an old gramophone and record, a selection of old local signage, and a girder from the doomed Tay Bridge.

The arrangement of galleries around the Grand Gallery’s “birdcage” structure is organised into themes across multiple floors. The World Cultures Galleries allow visitors to explore the culture of the entire planet; Living Lands explains the ways in which our natural environment influences the way we live our lives, and the beliefs that grow out of the places we live – from the Arctic cold of North America to Australia’s deserts.

The adjacent Patterns of Life gallery shows objects ranging from the everyday, to the unusual from all over the world. The functions different objects serve at different periods in peoples’ lives are explored, and complement the contents of the Living Lands gallery.

Performance & Lives houses musical instruments from around the world, alongside masks and costumes; both rooted in long-established traditions and rituals, this displayed alongside contemporary items showing the interpretation of tradition by contemporary artists and instrument-creators.

The museum proudly bills the Facing the Sea gallery as the only one in the UK which is specifically based on the cultures of the South Pacific. It explores the rich diversity of the communities in the region, how the sea shapes the islanders’ lives – describing how their lives are shaped as much by the sea as the land.

Both the Facing the Sea and Performance & Lives galleries are on the second floor, next to the new exhibition shop and foyer which leads to one of the new exhibition galleries, expected to house the visiting Amazing Mummies exhibit in February, coming from Leiden in the Netherlands.

The Inspired by Nature, Artistic Legacies, and Traditions in Sculpture galleries take up most of the east side of the upper floor of the museum. The latter of these shows the sculptors from diverse cultures have, through history, explored the possibilities in expressing oneself using metal, wood, or stone. The Inspired by Nature gallery shows how many artists, including contemporary ones, draw their influence from the world around us – often commenting on our own human impact on that natural world.

Contrastingly, the Artistic Legacies gallery compares more traditional art and the work of modern artists. The displayed exhibits attempt to show how people, in creating specific art objects, attempt to illustrate the human spirit, the cultures they are familiar with, and the imaginative input of the objects’ creators.

The easternmost side of the museum, adjacent to Edinburgh University’s Old College, will bring back memories for many regular visitors to the museum; but, with an extensive array of new items. The museum’s dedicated taxidermy staff have produced a wide variety of fresh examples from the natural world.

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At ground level, the Animal World and Wildlife Panorama’s most imposing exhibit is probably the lifesize reproduction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. This rubs shoulders with other examples from around the world, including one of a pair of elephants. The on-display elephant could not be removed whilst renovation work was underway, and lurked in a corner of the gallery as work went on around it.

Above, in the Animal Senses gallery, are examples of how we experience the world through our senses, and contrasting examples of wildly differing senses, or extremes of such, present in the natural world. This gallery also has giant screens, suspended in the free space, which show footage ranging from the most tranquil and peaceful life in the sea to the tooth-and-claw bloody savagery of nature.

The Survival gallery gives visitors a look into the ever-ongoing nature of evolution; the causes of some species dying out while others thrive, and the ability of any species to adapt as a method of avoiding extinction.

Earth in Space puts our place in the universe in perspective. Housing Europe’s oldest surviving Astrolabe, dating from the eleventh century, this gallery gives an opportunity to see the technology invented to allow us to look into the big questions about what lies beyond Earth, and probe the origins of the universe and life.

In contrast, the Restless Earth gallery shows examples of the rocks and minerals formed through geological processes here on earth. The continual processes of the planet are explored alongside their impact on human life. An impressive collection of geological specimens are complemented with educational multimedia presentations.

Beyond working on new galleries, and the main redevelopment, the transformation team have revamped galleries that will be familiar to regular past visitors to the museum.

Formerly known as the Ivy Wu Gallery of East Asian Art, the Looking East gallery showcases National Museums Scotland’s extensive collection of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese material. The gallery’s creation was originally sponsored by Sir Gordon Wu, and named after his wife Ivy. It contains items from the last dynasty, the Manchu, and examples of traditional ceramic work. Japan is represented through artefacts from ordinary people’s lives, expositions on the role of the Samurai, and early trade with the West. Korean objects also show the country’s ceramic work, clothing, and traditional accessories used, and worn, by the indigenous people.

The Ancient Egypt gallery has always been a favourite of visitors to the museum. A great many of the exhibits in this space were returned to Scotland from late 19th century excavations; and, are arranged to take visitors through the rituals, and objects associated with, life, death, and the afterlife, as viewed from an Egyptian perspective.

The Art and Industry and European Styles galleries, respectively, show how designs are arrived at and turned into manufactured objects, and the evolution of European style – financed and sponsored by a wide range of artists and patrons. A large number of the objects on display, often purchased or commissioned, by Scots, are now on display for the first time ever.

Shaping our World encourages visitors to take a fresh look at technological objects developed over the last 200 years, many of which are so integrated into our lives that they are taken for granted. Radio, transportation, and modern medicines are covered, with a retrospective on the people who developed many of the items we rely on daily.

What was known as the Museum of Scotland, a modern addition to the classical Victorian-era museum, is now known as the Scottish Galleries following the renovation of the main building.

This dedicated newer wing to the now-integrated National Museum of Scotland covers the history of Scotland from a time before there were people living in the country. The geological timescale is covered in the Beginnings gallery, showing continents arranging themselves into what people today see as familiar outlines on modern-day maps.

Just next door, the history of the earliest occupants of Scotland are on display; hunters and gatherers from around 4,000 B.C give way to farmers in the Early People exhibits.

The Kingdom of the Scots follows Scotland becoming a recognisable nation, and a kingdom ruled over by the Stewart dynasty. Moving closer to modern-times, the Scotland Transformed gallery looks at the country’s history post-union in 1707.

Industry and Empire showcases Scotland’s significant place in the world as a source of heavy engineering work in the form of rail engineering and shipbuilding – key components in the building of the British Empire. Naturally, whisky was another globally-recognised export introduced to the world during empire-building.

Lastly, Scotland: A Changing Nation collects less-tangible items, including personal accounts, from the country’s journey through the 20th century; the social history of Scots, and progress towards being a multicultural nation, is explored through heavy use of multimedia exhibits.

Friday, June 23, 2006

20th Century Fox will produce at least 13 new episodes of the animated series Futurama, scheduled to air on Comedy Central in 2008. Futurama, an animation from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, was canceled by FOX in 2003.

Comedy Central has recently acquired the rights to the back catalogue of 72 Futurama episodes and any eventual new episodes.

“We are thrilled that Matt Groening and 20th Century Fox Television have decided to produce new episodes of ‘Futurama’ and that Comedy Central will be the first to air them,” announces Comedy Central senior vice president for programming David Bernath.

Voice actors Billy West (Fry, Professor Farnsworth), Katey Sagal (Leela) and John DiMaggio (Bender) are all contracted to return.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

US stock markets dropped to twelve-year lows on Thursday, amidst falling confidence in the financial sector and worries over whether the US automobile manufacturer General Motors will be able to keep operating.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 4.08%, or 280.52 points, at the closing bell, reaching a level of 6595.32, a new 12-year low. The Nasdaq Composite lost 54.15 points, or 4%, to 1299.59, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 plunged by 30.27 points, or 4.25%, closing at 682.60.

Every stock in the Dow Jones, other than Wal-Mart, either lost ground or remained even, and all stocks in the S&P 500 index lost ground.

General Motors’ shares lost 15.5% after the auto firm announced that its auditors had “substantial doubt” over whether it would be able to keep operating.

Shares of financial companies were lower by nine percent, with Bank of America losing 11.7% and Citigroup falling by 9.7%.

“What’s most worrisome is that we haven’t hit the crescendo yet,” said Bill Groeneveld, the head trader for vFinance Investments. “Asset-management divisions are getting calls to just liquidate everything, and we haven’t seen the big players come back in at all.”

“This is one of the worst bear markets in the last 100 years; it started out with the credit crisis and the subprime [loans], but it is like a forest fire that has raced across the clearing and ignited other parts: Autos, auto parts, the insurance companies have been hit very hard. The credit crisis is causing an unraveling of industry after industry because the banks don’t lend,” said David Dreman, the chief investment officer of Dreman Value Management.

European markets were also lower today, with the London’s FTSE index losing 3.2% and the DAX index of Germany falling by five percent.

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byAlma Abell

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