Tagged: Australia

$100,000 goes unclaimed — judge awards it to janitor who turned it in

An Australian magistrate ruled that a janitor in Sydney can keep most of the $100,000 in Australian currency he found while cleaning the bathroom of a television station in Sydney. The ruling came three years after Chamindu Amarsinghe found the money in a sanitary bin.

“There was too much to count,” Amarsinghe told an Australian news team. “I thought someone was playing a prank on me. But when I touched the notes, all yellow and green, I realized it was real money.”

I just thought, ‘That’s not my money, so I can’t take it away. I don’t know what the hell this money is doing here.’” He added, “Someone could have put it there and planned to come back for it. I didn’t want them to come back for it and find it gone and them come after me.

Despite criminal investigations and charges into the money’s origins, little is known of where it came from and no owner has come forward to claim the cash. Unable to determine where the money came from, Magistrate Michael Smith felt it was best left in the hands of the man who found it, saying “There’s no reason why such honesty should go unrewarded.”

Amarsinghe has moved to New Zealand where he is studying for a career in information technology…”I just want to spend my life in a normal way, find a job in IT and carry out that dream,” he said. “I’m really, really lucky. I’m not going to waste it.”

Although unsure what he’ll do with the money, Amarsinghe plans to donate a portion of it to the disabled and a portion to a Buddhist temple outside of Melbourne.

Bravo. Truly a pleasure to read of an honest man – and sensible.

Reminds me of a Palestinian I worked with in a factory back East. He hit the lottery in Palestine and used the money to bring his family to the United States where he studied and qualified for a solid industrial trade. Had enough money left over to send his daughters to college.

My mate in Oz traded in his Tiger for a KTM

In motorcycle speak, that means he went from a Triumph motorcycle to one from KTM – with more power, advanced suspension. He can scare himself even easier, now.

The video reminds me much of the southern Rockies – especially here in the dry end in New Mexico.

Helmet camera is a Drift Ghost S.

When he’s not blogging about environmental and other political issues in Australia, he finds time to work for a living – and play outdoors. His blog is listed over there on the right of the page – Blog that should not be.

I wouldn’t care to be the guy setting a record for the biggest insect removed from inside a human ear

Hendrik Helmer has taken out the unofficial title of having the largest cockroach removed from a human ear in Darwin.

He says dislodging the 2cm giant at Royal Darwin Hospital caused him agonising pain.

The cockroach took about 10 minutes to die after it was removed from his ear.

Mr Helmer, from the Darwin suburb of Karama, said his ordeal began early on Wednesday morning when he was woken up at about 2:30am by a sharp pain in his right ear.

He immediately thought some type of insect may have crawled into it while he slept…He said the pain was intense and despite a few bouts of relief began to get worse.

“I was hoping it was not a poisonous spider … I was hoping it didn’t bite me,” he said.

After trying to suck the insect out with a vacuum cleaner, he tried squirting water from a tap into his ear to flush it out…

“Whatever was in my ear didn’t like it at all,” he said.

As his pain increased, Mr Helmer, who works as a supervisor at a warehouse, roused his flatmate to take him to Royal Darwin Hospital, where he was quickly seen by a doctor.

Mr Helmer said the doctor put oil down the ear canal, which forced the still-unidentified insect to crawl in deeper but eventually it began to die.

“Near the 10 minute mark … somewhere about there, he started to stop burrowing but he was still in the throes of death twitching,” he said.

At that point the doctor put forceps into his ear and pulled out the cockroach…

“She said they had never pulled an insect this large out of someone’s ear,” Mr Helmer said.

Helmer says he’s not changing anything in his lifestyle – or sleepstyle; but, when some of his friends were asked for an opinion, they said they’ve started sleeping with headphones on or earbuds in their ears.

Eeoouugh!

Coppers in Oz free naked man stuck in washing machine


Some washing machines are more dangerous than others

Police in Australia have rescued a naked man who got stuck inside a washing machine while playing a game of hide-and-seek.

The man reportedly hid inside the top-loading machine so he could surprise his partner.

But he became stuck and it took 20 minutes for rescuers to dislodge him using olive oil as a lubricant…

The incident took place on Saturday in Mooroopna town, north of Melbourne, in Victoria state.

Few details were revealed about the man, with some reports saying he was 20 years old.

Sergeant Michelle De Araugo said “it was just a game gone wrong”, according to Agence-France Presse news agency…

Another officer cautioned against misusing household equipment…”My advice would be for people not to climb into appliances – obviously that [can] cause a number of issues, as we’ve seen on the weekend,” said First Constable Luke Ingram.

I emailed a mate of mine in Melbourne just to be certain it wasn’t him. After all, the coppers didn’t give out the lad’s name. He replied that he “has too much respect for appliances to do anything like this.”

I thought about teasing him about being a Spurs fan and that being sufficient reason to suspect his sanity. But, we all know it takes a proper Gooner to try a stunt like this.

More than 300 Australian sharks are now on Twitter

Government researchers have tagged 338 sharks with acoustic transmitters that monitor where the animals are. When a tagged shark is about half a mile away from a beach, it triggers a computer alert, which tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter feed. The tweet notes the shark’s size, breed and approximate location…

The tagging system alerts beachgoers far quicker than traditional warnings, says Chris Peck, operations manager of Surf Life Saving Western Australia. “Now it’s instant information,” he tells Sky News, “and really people don’t have an excuse to say we’re not getting the information. It’s about whether you are searching for it and finding it.”

The tags will also be monitored by scientists studying the sharks. Researchers have tagged great whites, whaler sharks and tiger sharks.

“This kind of innovative thinking is exactly what we need more of when it comes to finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict,” says Alison Kock, research manager of the Shark Spotters program in South Africa. Kock tells NPR that the project is a good idea — but that people should know that not all sharks are tagged…

Kock and Kim Holland, a marine biologist who leads shark research at the University of Hawaii, agree that the tweets won’t be enough to protect swimmers.

“It can, in fact, provide a false sense of security — that is, if there is no tweet, then there is no danger — and that simply is not a reasonable interpretation,” Holland says, pointing out that the reverse is also true. “Just because there’s a shark nearby doesn’t mean to say that there’s any danger. In Hawaii, tiger sharks are all around our coastlines all the time, and yet we have very, very few attacks…”

The typical human response when something wild and natural kills something tame and unnatural that has invaded their evolutionary habitat – is to kill the wild beast. This is only exaggerated by governments who [of course] must consider additional aspects of the question. Like – how will these people vote in the next election if I’m not perceived as a father figure/protector.

Huge freshwater reserves discovered beneath the ocean floor

earth oceans

Scientists in Australia have reported the discovery of huge freshwater reserves preserved in aquifers under the world’s oceans. The water has remained shielded from seawater thanks to the accumulation of a protective layer of sediment and clay. And it’s not a local phenomenon. Such reserves are to be found under continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.

The discovery was made by researchers at the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and the School of the Environment at Flinders University. The scientists estimate there is around half a million cubic kilometers of what they describe as “low salinity” water, which means it could be processed into fresh, potable water economically.

The reserves formed when ocean levels were lower and rainwater made its way into the ground in land areas that were not covered until the ice caps melted 20,000 years ago, causing sea levels to rise…

To access these non-renewable water reserves, it would be necessary to drill into the seabed from man-made, offshore platforms or from the mainland or nearby islands. Despite the high costs involved, the water would require less energy to desalinate than it does to desalinate sea water, although a careful assessment of the economics, sustainability and environmental impact of the exploration of such water reserves would be necessary.

Our history as a species is characterized by the quest for scarce goods. When these are the stuff of life – rather than baubles for princes, pundits and priests – conflict often is the result. One must hope that when technology is sufficiently advanced for economic access to these reserves our politics and ethics are equal to humane distribution.

We can’t afford to get science education wrong

This is from one of my favorite sites in Australia

Science gives young people the tools to understand the world around us and the ability to engage with contemporary and future issues, such as medical advances and climate change. That is why science should be taught to students up until the age of 16. However, Ofsted’s recent report on the state of school science reports worrying trends in the way science is being taught.

A particular worry is the status of practical science in our schools. Studying science without experiments is like studying literature without books. Experiments are an inherent part of science and are vital for further study and employment. They bring theory to life, nurturing pupils’ natural curiosity, teaching them to ask questions and helping them to understand phenomena such as magnetism, acidity and cell division. Practical work gives them valuable skills and abilities, such as precise measurement and careful observation….there is a real danger that schools and colleges will give students even fewer practical experiences than they have now.

…According to the Wellcome Trust Monitor, an independent nationwide survey the most commonly selected factor that 14- to 18-year-olds identified as having encouraged them to learn science was “having a good teacher” (58%), and the most commonly selected factor for discouraging them from learning science was “having a bad teacher” (43%). That is why I fully support Ofsted’s recommendation that school leaders should ensure science-focused development of teachers….The future of science depends on the quality of science education today, and we cannot afford to get it wrong.

I feel the same about what is and what isn’t a well-rounded education in our public schools in the United States. Growing up in a New England factory town, I managed daily and weekly access to the basics + music and the arts + enough physical education to provide some guidance towards lifetime sports.

A lot of that could have been better – and should be with what we know nowadays. Paying teachers sufficiently to encourage the best students to become teachers is a given. So is spending enough hours in school to get this altogether.

Ancient DNA unravels Europe’s genetic diversity

Ancient DNA recovered from a time series of skeletons in Germany spanning 4,000 years of prehistory has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern-day Europeans.

The study…reveals dramatic population changes with waves of prehistoric migration, not only from the accepted path via the Near East, but also from Western and Eastern Europe.

The research was a collaboration between the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA…researchers from the University of Mainz, the State Heritage Museum in Halle, Germany, and National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project. The teams used mitochondrial DNA extracted from bone and teeth samples from 364 prehistoric human skeletons ‒ ten times more than previous ancient DNA studies.

“This is the largest and most detailed genetic time series of Europe yet created, allowing us to establish a complete genetic chronology,” says joint-lead author Dr Wolfgang Haak of ACAD. “Focussing on this small but highly important geographic region meant we could generate a gapless record, and directly observe genetic changes in ‘real-time’ from 7,500 to 3,500 years ago, from the earliest farmers to the early Bronze Age.”

“Our study shows that a simple mix of indigenous hunter-gatherers and the incoming Near Eastern farmers cannot explain the modern-day diversity alone,” says joint-lead author Guido Brandt, PhD candidate at the University of Mainz. “The genetic results are much more complex than that. Instead, we found that two particular cultures at the brink of the Bronze Age 4,200 years ago had a marked role in the formation of Central Europe’s genetic makeup.”

Professor Kurt Alt (University of Mainz) says: “What is intriguing is that the genetic signals can be directly compared with the changes in material culture seen in the archaeological record. It is fascinating to see genetic changes when certain cultures expanded vastly, clearly revealing interactions across very large distances.” These included migrations from both Western and Eastern Europe towards the end of the Stone Age…

Dr Haak says: “None of the dynamic changes we observed could have been inferred from modern-day genetic data alone, highlighting the potential power of combining ancient DNA studies with archaeology to reconstruct human evolutionary history.”

Fascinating stuff. Work which wouldn’t have been at all practical a decade or so back in time.

My personal pleasure was taking part in an early National Geographic DNA track of my patriarchal DNA from Africa through the steppes of Central Asia to Scotland – perfectly in line with the research of Gerhard Herm and his anthropological history of “The Celts”.

Capabilities are advanced enough that I may try an updated go-round with NatGeo.