A recognition that will do you in eventually

oldest person

If there’s one honor you don’t want, it’s to be recognized as the world’s oldest person.

Without fail, often within months and sometimes even weeks of being declared as the planet’s senior senior citizen, the individual is dead.

The latest to fall victim to this curse: Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, 116, who died today less than six months after being recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living person.

Kimura did far better than his immediate predecessor, though. Dina Manfredini lasted just 13 as the world’s oldest person before dying late last year.

And of the 32 previous record holders, only seven survived more than a year after being honored for their longevity. Sounds like a curse if I’ve ever heard of one.

In seriousness, one of the interesting aspects of news stories about the extremely aged is that they are almost never quoted. This is almost always, to put it delicately, because the faculties of the extremely aged aren’t quite what they once were.

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Rare gorilla’s albinism traced to inbreeding

snowflake the gorilla

Snowflake, the only albino gorilla known to man, was a star at the Barcelona Zoo for decades.

Captured in Equatorial Guinea, Snowflake lived at the zoo from 1966 until his death in 2003, becoming an iconic figure of not only the zoo but the city itself.

Now Spanish researchers say they have determined that Snowflake’s albinism was the result of inbreeding.

After carrying out genome sequencing on Snowflake’s remains, researchers at Barcelona’s Institute of Evolutionary Biology have concluded that his albinism was caused by a “mutation of the SLC45A2 gene” which was transmitted to him by both parents, according to Agence France-Presse.

“Genes causing albinism are recessive. That is, to be albino, you have to have the two chromosomes with the mutation for albinism,” Tomas Marques, the director of the team that carried out the study, told the wire service.

Snowflake’s grandfather probably carried the recessive albino genes, Marques said.

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Research: cotton could aid in oil-spill cleanup

low micronaire cotton

Low-grade unprocessed cotton could prove an effective cleanup tool following oil spills at sea, according to recent research.

A study published in the most recent issue of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research reveals that one pound of low-micronaire cotton can absorb more than 30 pounds of dense crude oil, according to research conducted at Texas Tech’s Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory.

In addition, the natural waxiness of raw, unprocessed cotton fiber keeps water out, making cotton an efficient and effective material for addressing ocean-based oil spills, according to the publication, published by the American Chemical Society.

“The new study includes some of the first scientific data on unprocessed cotton’s use as a crude oil sorbent,” according to Southeast Farm Press.

About 10 percent of the cotton grown in West Texas is low micronaire, according to Seshadri Ramkumar, lead author of the study and manager of the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech.

“It doesn’t take a dye well, so it has little value as a textile fiber. However, because it is less mature, more of it can be packed into a given area,” he said. “We show through sophisticated testing that low-micronaire cotton is much finer and can pick up more crude oil.

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Some things sell themselves – fortunately

Aston-Martin-V12-Vantage

About all that stands out in TopGear.com’s review of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is the end of the second sentence – “ … it’s more powerful than ever, and it’s louder” – along with the accompanying photos of the stylish sports car.

But, then again, power, noise and flashy pics can do much to mask muddled writing.

Yes, for the vast majority of us plebeians, dreaming of owning an Aston Martin is akin to window shopping on Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive – except, perhaps, you might get something a little more tangible for your money.

Perhaps that’s why TopGear loaded its review of the V12 Vantage S with jargon that makes it practically incomprehensible at first glance.

For example:

Following on from the Rapide S revealed earlier this year, the new Vantage S replaces the old V12 Vantage, and sports Aston’s new AM28 6-litre V12 engine, producing the same figures as the Vanquish. So you’re looking at 565bhp – up from 510bhp – 457lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 205mph. The old car did a piffling 183mph; positively pedestrian.

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