Runaway train saved by whale!

A fatefully placed whale sculpture in the Netherlands saved a careening train from certain devastation Monday, catching the lead runaway metro carriage on the graceful arc of its mammoth tail.

The improbable incident unfolded at the De Akkers metro station in Spijkenisse just after midnight. Photos from the scene suggest that the train, part of the Rotterdam Metro network, had been unable to stop as it reached its terminus and overran the track.

Rather than fall more than 30 feet to the ground, the train was brought to a stop by one of two whale tail sculptures at the end of the track. The driver of the train was able to escape. He visited a hospital as a precautionary measure, according to local media reports.

Authorities plan on removing his undershorts from the driver’s seat in a week or two.

Whale meat in sushi restaurants came from Japan

4 species of whale + 1 dolphin on this plate

An international team of Oregon State University scientists, documentary filmmakers and environmental advocates has uncovered an apparent illegal trade in whalemeat, linking whales killed in Japan’s controversial scientific whaling program to sushi restaurants in Seoul, South Korea, and Los Angeles, Calif.

Genetic analysis of sashimi served at a prominent Los Angeles sushi restaurant in October of 2009 has confirmed that the strips of raw meat purchased by filmmakers of the Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove,” came from a sei whale – most likely from Japanese “scientific whaling.”

“The sequences were identical to sei whale products that had previously been purchased in Japan in 2007 and 2008, which means they not only came from the same area of the ocean – but possibly from the same distinct population,” said Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, who conducted the analysis.

“And since the international moratorium on commercial hunting (1986), there has been no other known source of sei whales available commercially other than in Japan,” Baker added. “This underscores the very real problem of the illegal international trade of whalemeat products.

“Our ability to use genetics as a tool to monitor whale populations around the world has advanced significantly over the past few years,” Baker said, “but unless we have access to all of the data – including those whales killed under Japan’s scientific whaling – we cannot provide resource managers with the best possible science.

The hypocrisy and deceit of fishery managers in Japan matches the lowest standards in commercial history. It will take individuals around the world voting with their non-purchase of Japanese goods to change things.

Fortunately, most governments haven’t figured out how to make boycotts illegal. Though some have tried.

Greenland Independence Feast includes whale

Residents of the town of Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland, will share meat from a captured whale as part of Greenland’s celebration of self-rule.

The Copenhagen Post said the first Greenlandic whale hunted and caught in Qeqertarsuaq in 36 years will be part of a June 21 celebration of the introduction of self-rule to the Kingdom of Denmark home-rule country.

The capture of the whale falls under a recent International Whaling Commission quota that allows two Greenlandic whales to be caught each year between 2008 and 2012.

None of the protected animals were caught in the quota’s first year, meaning the 2008 quote moved forward to allow for four of the whales to be hunted this year.

The government claims ownership of the first two whales caught, donating certain body parts for biological research.

The Danish newspaper said the meat and blubber from the whale caught in Qeqertarsuaq will serve as community resident gifts during the June self-rule celebration.

You know it ain’t going to taste like chicken.

A whale of a turbine

A Whalepower test blade

A West Chester University professor has developed a new wind turbine that draws inspiration from a blubbery source: the flippers of a humpback whale. Those knobby flippers were long considered one of the oddities of the sea, found on no other earthly creature.

But after years of study, starting with a whale that washed up on a New Jersey beach, Frank Fish thinks he knows their secret. The bumps cause water to flow over the flippers more smoothly, giving the giant mammal the ability to swim tight circles around its prey.

What works in the ocean seems to work in air. Already a flipperlike prototype is generating energy on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, with twin, bumpy-edged blades knifing through the air. And this summer, an industrial fan company plans to roll out its own whale-inspired model – moving the same amount of air with half the usual number of blades and thus a smaller, energy-saving motor.

Some scientists were sceptical at first, but the concept now has gotten support from independent researchers, most recently some Harvard engineers who wrote up their findings in the respected journal Physical Review Letters…

It has all been a bit of a culture shock for Fish, who is more at home in the open world of academia than the more secretive realm of inventions and patents. Two decades ago, his only motivation was to figure out what the bumps were for.

“I sort of found something that’s in plain sight,” he says. “You can look at something again and again, and then you’re seeing it differently.”

A long, thoroughly enjoyable in-depth article. Read it and reflect.

Could be a beginning to advancements in technology in wind generation. Cripes – this may be useful in aerofoil design in general.