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Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 World Women Team Chess Championship

The 2009 World Women Team Chess Championship is about to begin. The event runs from September 1st until September 12th in Ningbo, China. Here is a list of the countries participating and their representatives:
China A 2490

1 GM Hou Yifan 2584
2 GM Zhao Xue 2544
3 WGM Shen Yang 2453
4 Ju Wenjun 2443
5 WGM Huang Qian 2424

Geogia 2474

1 GM Chiburdanidze, Maia 2506
2 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 2536
3 IM Javakhishvili, Lela 2470
4 IM Lomineishvili, Maia 2427
5 IM Khukhashvili, Sopiko 2430

Russia 2468

1 IM Tatiana Kosintseva 2539
2 IM Nadezhda Kosintseva 2482
3 IM Ekaterina Kovalevskaya 2436
4 IM Marina Romanko 2447
5 IM Valentina Gunina 2437

Ukraina 2444

1 IM Anna Ushenina 2478
2 WGM Natalia Zhukova 2461
3 IM Yanovska Inna 2428
4 IM Maria Muzychuk 2441
5 WGM Natalya Zdebska 2412

India 2390

1 IM Harika Dronavalli 2474
2 IM Tania Sachdev 2423
3 WGM Kruttika Nadig 2361
4 WGM Eesha Karavade 2359
5 WGM Gomes Mary Ann 2332

Poland 2378

1 IM Iweta Rajlich 2448
2 WGM Jolanta Zawadzka 2387
3 WGM Joanna Majdan 2382
4 IM Joanna Dworakowska 2345
5 WIM Karina Szczepkowska-Horowska 2327

USA 2372

1 IM Irina Krush 2458
2 IM Anna Zatonskih 2466
3 IM Rusudan Goletiani 2391
4 WIM Alisa Melekhina 2270
5 WFM Tatev Abrahamian 2273

Armenia 2372

1 IM Elina Danielian 2503
2 IM Lilit Mkrtchian 2479
3 WGM Lilit Galojan 2323
4 WGM Nelli Aginian 2322
5 WIM Siranush Andriasian 2235

China B 2356

1 Tan Zhongyi 2435
2 WIM Zhang Xiaowen 2391
3 IM Wang Yu 2380
4 WFM Ding Yixin 2343
5 Wang Xiaohui 2231
Vietnam 2177

1 WGM Hoang Thi Bao Tram 2274
2 WIM Pham Le Thao Nguyen 2314
3 WFM Hoang Thi Nhu 2119
4 WFM Pham Bich Ngoc 2105
5 WFM Vo Thi Kim Phung 2073
The format of this event is a round robin (each team players every other team in the event once),making it a 9 round event.

Good luck to all of the players.


"Ningbo a seaport with sub-provincial administrative status. The city has a population of 2,201,000 and is situated in northeastern Zhejiang province, China. Lying south of the Hangzhou Bay, and facing the East China Sea to the east, Ningbo borders Shaoxing to the west and Taizhou to the south, and is separated from Zhoushan by a narrow body of water.Ningbo was one of China's oldest cities, with a history dating back to 4800 B.C. the Hemudu culture. Ningbo was known as a trade city on the silk road at least 2000 years ago, and then as a major port, along with Yangzhou and Guangzhou in the Tang Dynasty; thereafter, the major ports for foreign trade in the Song Dynasty." (source:

Wolves Are Set to Become Fair Game in the West

Written by
William Yardley

"A wolf hunt is set to begin in Idaho on Tuesday if a federal judge does not stop it. It would be the first time in decades that hunters have been allowed to pursue the gray wolf, an animal that has come to symbolize tensions over how people interact with wilderness in the West."

"Wolf season is set to open for hunters in Idaho and Montana. Gray wolves had long been on the endangered list.
On Monday, the judge, Donald W. Molloy of Federal District Court, will hold a hearing to determine whether to issue an injunction sought by wildlife advocates against the hunt and reopen the question of returning the wolf to the endangered list."

"Gray wolves were taken off the list five months ago, after being protected under federal law for more than 30 years. More than 6,000 hunters in Idaho have bought licenses for the chance to participate in the hunt, in which wildlife officials will allow 220 wolves to be killed. In 2008, the population stood at about 850. Montana will allow 75 animals to be killed, starting Sept. 15."

"The states’ hunts will be over when the limit is reached or when the season ends, which is Dec. 31 in most areas."

To read the remainder of this article please click on this link::
"After they were nearly wiped out in the lower 48 states, wolves in Idaho were declared endangered in 1974 under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 1987 recovery plan for wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains included reintroducing them in central Idaho in 1995 and 1996."

"Since then, Idaho has been involved in wolf management as directed by the Legislature, which in 2002, adopted the Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Under the plan Idaho Fish and Game would be responsible for wolf management following delisting."

"In February 2005, the Fish and Wildlife Service revised the rules that govern the experimental non-essential population of reintroduced wolves in Idaho south of Interstate 90. The change eased wolf management rules and gave Idaho a greater role in wolf management."

"In January 2006, an agreement between Idaho and the U.S. Department of Interior designated the state as an agent for day-to-day wolf management for the Fish and Wildlife Service."

"Wolves were removed from the endangered species list on May 4, 2009. Idaho Fish and Game has taken over management under 2008 state law, the 2002 wolf management plan and the 2008 Wolf Population Management Plan. Wolves will be managed as big game animals, similar to black bears and mountain lions. Hunting seasons will be set by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission." As of today, there are 846 wolves in Idaho, these wolves are found in 88 packs of which 39 are considered breeding packs. About 1,500 are found in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.


According to the website:

"an organization called Earthjustice, believes that the wolves will not be secure in their environment until the population rests between 2 and 3,000. The organization is planning legal action against the state of Idaho.This organization,

"is filing the lawsuit to restore federal Endangered Species Act protections to wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains until wolf numbers are stronger, the states develop an adequate legal safety net, and connectivity between recovery areas is assured."

"Under the challenged U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf delisting rule, Idaho and Montana are free to reduce the wolf population down to 150 per state -- a potential loss of roughly two-thirds of the region's wolves."

"The scheduled wolf hunts would cripple the regional wolf population by isolating wolves into disconnected subgroups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. The wolf hunts would also allow the killing of the breeding "alpha" male and female wolves, thereby disrupting the social group, leaving pups more vulnerable.
No other endangered species has ever been delisted at such a low population level and then immediately hunted to even lower unsustainable levels."

"The decision to hunt wolves comes as Yellowstone National Park wolves declined by 27 percent last year -- one of the largest declines reported since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995. The northern Rockies wolf population also has not achieved a level of connectivity between the greater Yellowstone, central Idaho, and northwest Montana areas that is essential to wolves' long-term survival.
Wolves are still under federal protection in Wyoming because a federal court previously ruled that Wyoming's hostile wolf management scheme leaves wolves in "serious jeopardy." The Fish and Wildlife Service in the recent past held that a state-by-state approach to delisting wolves was not permitted under the Endangered Species Act, but the federal government flip-flopped on its earlier position and this year took wolves in Idaho and Montana off the endangered species list while leaving those in Wyoming on the list."

"In addition to Wyoming, the states of Idaho and Montana have refused to make enforceable commitments to maintain viable wolf populations within their borders."

According to the website:

"Over this past year, the wolf population of Yellowstone National Park declined 27 percent -- and more than 70% of wolf pups in the park died of disease."

"Breeding pairs of wolves would need to be sustained around the thousand mark rather than around 400 where they are now to make sure genetic defects didn’t show up in wolf populations further down the road."

This controversy over wolves has a long history. The question is do we humans have right to dictate what size of population predators such as wolves can have in our provinces and states? Some advocates of the wolves have gone as far as recommending that people who are on the side of the wolf, should boycott Idaho Potatoes:

"Even though wolves were only taken off the Endangered Species List in Idaho in May, 2009, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is not only endorsing the proposed trophy hunt this fall, he’s vowed to participate in it. He told a group of hunters, “I’m prepared to bid for the first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.” The wolf hunt is an apparent effort to boost elk populations for hunters to slaughter, and will begin on September 1, 2009. The permit to kill a wolf costs $11.50—with 220 wolves set to be killed statewide.

Equally dismaying is the fact that Gov. Otter claims to “respect” wolves—making the nonsensical claim, in an interview with The Idaho Statesman, “You can still hate them and respect their cunning and their place in nature.”

Friends of Animals’ president, Priscilla Feral says, “Gov. Otter’s enthusiasm for wolf killing not only demonstrates a complete lack of conscience and understanding of the word ‘respect,’ it shows a lack of respect for nature and the ecosystem; wolves don’t need Gov. Otter—or anyone else—to manage them.”

Friends of Animals is calling for a boycott of potatoes grown in Idaho—the largest producer in the United States. One-third of all potatoes are grown in Idaho. Feral adds: “As long as Idaho is in the business of killing wolves, the nature-respecting public should stop buying potatoes there.” Look for potatoes grown in Maine, Colorado, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and other states."


Let us hope that all the parties involved in this issue concerning wolves can come together and agree on some guidelines which will allow wolves to remain living in the west, without having their species threatened with extinction. What is really needed is a wolf management program, to ensure that wolves do not overpopulate regions (especially those where cattleman are trying to make a living), and at the same time, wolf populations are allowed to be sustained at a rate which will allow the species to exist in perpetuity.

source of image of wolves:

20 Things You Didn't Know About... Hurricanes

"A typical hurricane releases some 600 trillion watts of heat energy, equivalent to 200 times the world’s total electrical generating capacity."

To discover 20 other facts about hurricanes please click on the following link:

Source of image:

How Will Warmer Oceans Affect Sea Life?

Written by David Biello

"This June, the world's oceans reached 17 degrees Celsius, their highest average temperature since record keeping for these data began in the 19th century. And a new experiment suggests that those balmier waters might mean big changes for the marine food chain."

"Marine ecologist Mary O'Connor of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill set up five four-liter "microcosms" of seawater filled with microorganisms from the Bogue Sound estuary on the North Carolina coast. Over the course of eight days last spring, the scientists then exposed the microcosms to varying degrees of warming and nutrient levels to mimic storm flow into an estuary."

"Theoretically, increased nutrients and warmth should fuel the growth of tiny drifting plants known as phytoplankton—as evidenced by seasonal dead zones that form at the mouths of many rivers worldwide when the tiny plants bloom, die and, while decaying, suck up all the available oxygen in the seawater. But the researchers found that increasing temperatures, although initially enhancing the growth of phytoplankton, also allowed increased grazing by zooplankton (microscopic animals) and bacteria, according to the results published today in PLoS Biology."

To read the remainder of this article please click on this link:


Anita Gara wins 2009 Hungarian Women's Chess Championship

WIM/IM(Men's) Anita Gara (left photo) has won the 2009 Hungarian Women's Chess Championship. She won the title over her sister, WGM/IM (Men's)Ticia. 

on a tie-break procedure after both had finished the event with scores of 7/10. The tie-break used was "most wins". Anita had 6 wins as opposed to Ticia's 5 wins in the event, and by virtue of this fact Anita was declared the 2009 Hungarian Women's Chess Champion! Congratulations Anita and congratulations to Ticia as well! The official tournament website is at:
Source of image::,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Defying Experts, Rogue Computer Code Still Lurks

Defying Experts, Rogue Computer Code Still Lurks
Written by
Published: August 26, 2009

Like a ghost ship, a rogue software program that glided onto the Internet last November has confounded the efforts of top security experts to eradicate the program and trace its origins and purpose, exposing serious weaknesses in the world’s digital infrastructure.

The program, known as Conficker, uses flaws in Windows software to co-opt machines and link them into a virtual computer that can be commanded remotely by its authors. With more than five million of these zombies now under its control — government, business and home computers in more than 200 countries — this shadowy computer has power that dwarfs that of the world’s largest data centers.

Alarmed by the program’s quick spread after its debut in November, computer security experts from industry, academia and government joined forces in a highly unusual collaboration. They decoded the program and developed antivirus software that erased it from millions of the computers. But Conficker’s persistence and sophistication has squelched the belief of many experts that such global computer infections are a thing of the past.

“It’s using the best current practices and state of the art to communicate and to protect itself,” Rodney Joffe, director of the Conficker Working Group, said of the malicious program. “We have not found the trick to take control back from the malware in any way.”

Researchers speculate that the computer could be employed to generate vast amounts of spam; it could steal information like passwords and logins by capturing keystrokes on infected computers; it could deliver fake antivirus warnings to trick naïve users into believing their computers are infected and persuading them to pay by credit card to have the infection removed.

There is also a different possibility that concerns the researchers: That the program was not designed by a criminal gang, but instead by an intelligence agency or the military of some country to monitor or disable an enemy’s computers. Networks of infected computers, or botnets, were used widely as weapons in conflicts in Estonia in 2007 and in Georgia last year, and in more recent attacks against South Korean and United States government agencies. Recent attacks that temporarily crippled Twitter and Facebook were believed to have had political overtones.

To read the remainder of this article please click on the link below:

I suggest all of you who read this article go to these websites to check if your computer is infected with the Conficker worm: (Download the sysclean program
,and then consult the "How to Use" section of the readme file, readme_sysclean.txt.)

Common insect repellent affects nervous system: Study


- One of the world's most common insect repellents acts on the central nervous system in the same way as some insecticides and nerve gases, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Moderate use of the chemical compound, called deet, is most likely safe, the researchers say.

But experiments on insects, as well as on enzymes extracted from mice and human neurons, showed for the first time that it can interfere with the proper functioning of the nervous system.

The researchers say further studies are "urgently needed" to assess deet's potential toxicity to humans, especially when combined with other chemical compounds.

Their findings may also shed some light on the so-called "Gulf War Syndrome," the name given to a complex and variable mix of neurological symptoms reported by tens of thousands of U.S. military veterans who served in the first Gulf War against Iraq in 1990-1991.

Developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists just after the Second World War, deet has been available as a bug repellent for more than five decades.

Sold as lotions, creams and sprays in concentrations from five to 100 per cent, it has been widely used not just by weekend campers but as a frontline barrier against malaria, dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Some 200 million people use deet-based products every years, according to the study, published in the British-based open-access journal BMC Biology.

Scientists still don't know exactly how the compound works on blood-seeking insects. Some say it blocks the sensory neurons that would be titillated by a potential meal, while others hypothesize that bugs are simply put off by the smell.

More surprising still, there is relatively little research on the effects of deet in humans.

"It has been used for many years, but there are recent studies now that show a potential toxicity," said Vincent Corbel, a researcher at the Institute for Development Research in Montpellier, France, and lead author of the study.

"What we have done is identify a neurological target for this compound," he told AFP by phone.

In experiments, Corbel and a team of scientists co-led by Bruno Lapied of the University of Angers discovered that deet interferes with the normal breaking down of acetylcholine (ACh), the most common neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.

It does so by blocking the enzyme that normally degrades ACh, acetylcholinesterase, or AChE. The result is a toxic build-up of ACh that ultimately prevents the transmission of signals across the neuron synapse, the study found.

A class of insecticides called carbamates, as well as the nerve gas sarin, work in the same way, only the effects are stronger and last much longer.

Which is where the Gulf War Syndrome comes in.

"Many of the pesticides used in the Gulf War, as well as PB and nerve agents, exert toxic effects on the brain and nervous system by altering levels of ACh," a U.S. government report issued last November concluded.

PB, or pyridostigmine bromide, was widely used to protect against nerve gas exposure.

The 450-page report, entitled "Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans," points to earlier evidence that overexposure to deet may be toxic for the nervous system, but fails to recognize its potential role as a booster for the more potent chemicals to which soldiers had been exposed.

"For U.S. soldiers, the cocktail of high doses of PB and insect repellents to protect against mosquito bites may have caused symptoms, as both act on the central nervous system in the same way," said Corbel.

Fortunately, deet is "reversible," meaning its impact is short-lived. But further studies are needed to determine at what concentration it may become dangerous to people, especially small children and pregnant women, he added.

© Copyright (c) AFP


World's last great forest under threat: New study

The world's last remaining "pristine" forest – the boreal forest across large stretches of Russia, Canada and other northern countries – is under increasing threat, a team of international researchers has found.

The researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, University of Adelaide in Australia and the National University of Singapore have called for the urgent preservation of existing boreal forests in order to secure biodiversity and prevent the loss of this major global carbon sink.

The boreal forest comprises about one-third of the world's forested area and one-third of the world's stored carbon, covering a large proportion of Russia, Canada, Alaska and Scandinavia.

To date it has remained largely intact because of the typically sparse human populations in boreal regions. That is now changing says researchers and co-authors Associate Professor Ian Warkentin, Memorial University, Associate Professor Corey Bradshaw, University of Adelaide, and Professor Navjot Sodhi, National University of Singapore.

"Historically, fire and insects have driven the natural dynamics of boreal ecosystems," says Associate Professor Warkentin. "But with rising demand for resources, human disturbances caused by logging, mining and urban development have increased in these forests during recent years, with extensive forest loss for some regions and others facing heavy fragmentation and exploitation."

"Much world attention has focused on the loss and degradation of tropical forests over the past three decades, but now the boreal forest is poised to become the next Amazon," says Associate Professor Bradshaw, from the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute.

The findings have been published online in Trends in Ecology and Evolution in a paper called 'Urgent preservation of boreal carbon stocks and biodiversity'. The findings include:

Fire is the main driver of change and increased human activity is leading to more fires. There is also evidence that climate change is increasing the frequency and possibly the extent of fires in the boreal zone.
Few countries are reporting an overall change in the coverage by boreal forest but the degree of fragmentation is increasing with only about 40% of the total forested area remaining "intact".
Russian boreal forest is the most degraded and least "intact" and has suffered the greatest decline in the last few decades.
Countries with boreal forest are protecting less than 10% of their forests from timber exploitation, except for Sweden where the figure is about 20%.


Genomic Study Yields Plausible Cause Of Colony Collapse Disorder

ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2009)

"Researchers report this week that they have found a surprising but reliable marker of colony collapse disorder, a baffling malady that in 2007-2008 killed off more than a third of commercial honey bees in the U.S."

"Their study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to identify a single, objective molecular marker of the disorder, and to propose a data-driven hypothesis to explain the mysterious disappearance of American honey bees. The team included researchers from the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

"U. of I. researchers spearheaded the honey bee genome project, which was completed in October 2006, less than a month before the first reports of colony collapse disorder (CCD) began to circulate. The new study made use of the genome and a genome-based tool, the microarray, to look for differences in gene expression in the guts of healthy honey bees and in those from hives afflicted by CCD."

"Such microarray analyses normally identify only active genes – those that have been transcribed into messenger RNA in the first stage of building proteins. But Reed Johnson, a University of Illinois doctoral student in entomology and first author on the study, noticed that the microarrays were turning up large quantities of fragmented ribosomal RNA (rRNA) in the bees affected by CCD. Ribosomes are the factories in which proteins are made, but Johnson observed that this rRNA contained adenosine-rich sequences not seen in normal ribosomes. Such "polyadenylation" is believed to be a sign of ribosome degradation."

"Microarrays for other organisms also contain these mysterious pieces of ribosomal RNA, for reasons that are not yet altogether clear," said entomology and neuroscience professor Gene Robinson, a co-principal investigator on the study with entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum. But comparisons of healthy bees and bees from hives afflicted with CCD showed that the fragments were present at a much higher frequency in the CCD bees, he said."

"They are overrepresented in the CCD bees, significantly overrepresented," Berenbaum said. "The one consistent indicator of CCD across samples collected at multiple times and in multiple places was the overabundance of ribosomal fragments."

"When the team looked at the pathogens of healthy bees and bees from hives affected by CCD, they saw that the CCD bees suffered "more than their share" of infections with viruses that attack the ribosome, Berenbaum said. These so-called picorna-like viruses "hijack the ribosome," she said, taking over the cellular machinery to manufacture only viral proteins. The list of picorna-like viruses that afflict honey bees is long and includes Israeli acute paralysis virus, which was once suspected of being the primary cause of CCD."

To read the remainder of this article please click on this link:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The honeybee genome:implications for an understanding of human behavior

A very interesting series of videos concerning the Honeybee genome can be viewed at the website. To watch these videos please click on the following link:

What is a genome you ask?
In classical genetics, the genome of most mammals refers to a full set of chromosomes or genes in a reproductive cell.In humans the gamete of the male and female join to form and embryo and then a fetus.

Why is it important to understand the honeybee genome?

"The Western honeybee, Apis mellifera, is a key model for social behavior and is essential to agriculture and global ecology because of its pollination activity. There are striking differences in the size of gene families in the honeybee genome relative to other sequenced genomes for several important protein and domain families. These differences, which involve both larger and smaller gene numbers, as well as other novel features of the honeybee genome,have been suggestively related to the social lifestyle of the honeybee."

"Honeybees are known as paragons of sociality, living in societies that rival human societies in complexity and cohesion. Honeybees are eu-social, which means their colony’s population is differentiated into queens that produce offspring and non-reproductive altruistic workers that communally gather and process food, care for young, build nests,and defend their hive.Social evolution endowed honeybees with impressive traits. Queens and workers come from the same genome, but queens—usually one per colony—have 10 times the life span of workers (typically queens live for several years), lay up to 2000 eggs per day,and store sperm for years without losing viability.Workers, numbering tens of thousands per colony,display sophisticated cognitive abilities, despite abrain containing only 1 million neurons, which is five orders of magnitude less than the human brain.Worker bees can learn to associate a flower’s color,shape, scent, or location with a food reward, thereby increasing the efficiency with which they gather nectar and pollen. Worker bees can even learn abstract concepts such as “same” and “different,” which presumably also increases their ability to home in on the most profitable flower patches. Honeybees that find a good source of food return to the hive and communicate their discovery with a “dance language,” the only known nonprimate symbolic language, in which information regarding the location of a food source is transmitted from a “finder” bee to others within the hive."

"Honeybees benefit human-kind in exceptionally broad ways. In agriculture, honey-bees are the most important pollinators of food and fiber crops, with a value of about $15 billion dollars annually in the United States alone. Of course, they also produce honey. In biology and biomedicine,honeybees are popular model research organisms in diverse areas including allergic disease, develop-ment, gerontology, neuroscience, social behavior,and venom toxicology. However, honeybees are also threatened by human activity, perishing due to insecticides that indiscriminately may kill both pests and beneficial insects, and exotic parasitic mites vectored around the world by human commerce. The sequencing of the genome of the Western honey-bee, A. mellifera , was carried out in order to advance basic biology and applied apiculture."

"Population genetic analyses based on the honeybee genome have generated exciting new insights into the longstanding controversy of whether Africanized bees (“killer bees,”Apis scutellata) spread throughout the New World via hybridization or
displacement The answer is both! (Hybridization means the act of mixing different species or varieties of animals or plants and thus to produce hybrids; From what I have read on the internet, displacement seems to refer to act where the genes of one species replace the genes in another species through reproduction due to interbreeding.In the case of honeybees and african killer bees the genes of the african bees became dominant in African honey bees and this caused a hybrid of bee to develop, the african killer bee)."

"Africanized honeybees were introduced to Brazil from Africa in 1956 in order to breed a strain more suited for the tropical climate. The plan was to breed out the aggressiveness of A. scutellata before releasing the bees, but they were accidentally released before this could happen. Africanized bees spread throughout the New World, reaching the United States in 1990. This spread of Africanized honeybees has been one of the most spectacular examples of abiological invasion."

"Analyses of the honeybee genome reveal that this biological invasion has involved extensive hybridization with European subspecies, but the genomes of some subspecies appear to be more resistant to domination than others.It will be fascinating to learn why these two subspecies show different “susceptibilities” to Africanization, and what this might mean for the genetics of aggressive behavior."

"Relative to the fruitfly and mosquito, honeybees show a remarkable reduction in the size of gene families associated with the detoxification of harmful chemicals encountered in the environment. Honeybees also show a similar reduction in the size of gene families that encode components of the immune system. Why this is so is a mystery, especially since life in a densely populated beehive would seem to put bees at special risk for environmental toxins, pathogens, and parasites.Perhaps this is why honey bees are extremely vulnerable to many types of insecticides and have sufferedmajor population losses in some agricultural regionsof the world, including the recent reports of devastating losses due to Colony Collapse Disorder. On the other hand, it appears that bee social evolution hasalso led to novel behavioral mechanisms of protection, such as the ability of some “nurse bees” to detect and remove diseased larvae from the hive, and the collection by foragers of plant-produced resin swith antimicrobial activity that are used to coat the walls of the beehive."

"As these results illustrate, the sequencing of the honeybee genome is expected to usherin a bright era of bee research for the benefitof agriculture, biological investigations, and human health."


"By studying the humble honey bee, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have come a step closer to understanding the molecular basis of social behavior in humans."

“The honeybee (Apis mellifera) has been called a model system for social behavior,” said Saurabh (pronounced SAW-rub) Sinha, a professor of computer science and an affiliate of the university’s Institute for Genomic Biology. Using that model system, Sinha led a team that searched the honey bee genome for clues for social cues – a form of bee pressure that can cause bees to change jobs in response to needs of the hive."

“We want to learn how the honey bee society influences behavior in individual honey bees,” said Sinha, who is lead author of a paper that will be posted online this week ahead of regular publication by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “By studying the social regulation of gene expression, we hope to extrapolate the biology to humans.”

"Adult worker bees perform a number of tasks in the hive when they are young, such as caring for eggs and larvae, and then shift to foraging for nectar and pollen as they age. However, if the hive has a shortage of foragers, some of the young nurse bees will switch jobs and become foragers."

"The job transition, whether triggered by age or social cues, involves changes in thousands of genes in the honey bee brain; some genes turn on, while others turn off."

"Genes are switched on and off by short strings of DNA that lie close to the gene. The strings serve as binding sites for particular molecules, called transcription factors. For example, when the correct transcription factor latches into the binding site, the gene may be switched on. If the transcription factor breaks away from the binding site, the gene is switched off."

"To search for genes that might play a role in social behavior, Sinha and his colleagues used the newly sequenced honey bee genome to scan the binding sites of transcription factors known to function in the development of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) from a single cell to an adult."

"A computer algorithm written by the researchers scanned nearly 3,000 genes. Statistical techniques were then used to investigate whether particular transcription factors correlated with genes that were differentially expressed (turned on or off) between nurse bees and foragers."

“We found five different transcription factors that showed a statistically significant correlation with socially regulated genes,” Sinha said. “It appears that genes involved in nervous-system development in fruit flies are re-used by nature for behavioral functions in adult honey bees.”

"Their findings, Sinha said, suggest that honey bees will be useful in elucidating the mechanisms by which social factors regulate gene expression in brains, including those of humans."


An Indian hotspot

Analysis of satellite data and land-surface models reveals that groundwater in northwestern India is being depleted at an unsustainable rate. In the latest Nature Video, the researchers discuss their findings, and what this means for India's water supply. To watch a video which discusses this subject please click on this link:

There's never been a better time to cross-border online shop

Written by: Chaya Cooperberg:

"Monday was a good day for the Canadian dollar, with the currency trading up to 93 cents (U.S.). It was also a good day for cross-border online shopping."

"As our dollar has strengthened over the past few months, many of my friends have headed for the outlet malls in Buffalo to buy clothes, shoes and house wares. But when I see our currency gaining ground, I click on my favourite American stores online. (All figures below are in U.S. dollars, unless otherwise noted.)"

"American retailers are embracing virtual Canadian consumers these days, making it easier for us to shop online. On many websites, we now have the option of viewing prices in Canadian dollars, translated at that day’s exchange rate. Some sites are even offering free shipping to Canada. I suppose that U.S. retailers have found Canadian shoppers to be a resilient source of spending, compared with our still frugal American counterparts."

"We represent a lucrative market. Canadian online spending for retail goods in 2009 is forecast to grow 21 per cent per cent to $16-billion, according to eMarketer. With our currency’s growing purchasing power in the U.S., we are an attractive target for retailers trying to find a bright spot in the recession."

To read the remainder of this article please go to:

Today is the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope!

Written by Peter Walker

"Exactly 400 years ago today, on 25 August 1609, the Italian astronomer and philosopher Galilei Galileo showed Venetian merchants his new creation, a telescope – the instrument that was to bring him both scientific immortality and, more immediately, a whole lot of trouble."

"A refinement of models first devised in the Netherlands, Galileo's slim, brown stick was puny even by the standards of something one might buy in hobby shop today. But his eight-powered telescope, and the more powerful models he soon produced, when pointed skywards led Galileo to a series of groundbreaking conclusions."

"The moon was not, as long believed, completely smooth. Another planet, Jupiter, also had moons. Meanwhile Venus showed a range of moon-like phases, something which could not happen if both it and the sun orbited the earth."

To read the remainder of this article please visit:
To read a brief history of of Galileo's telescope visit:

Source of image of Galileo's telescope:

Source of image of Galileo:

"Galileo's championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime, when a large majority of philosophers and astronomers still subscribed (at least outwardly) to the geocentric view that the Earth is at the centre of the universe. After 1610, when he began supporting heliocentrism publicly, he met with bitter opposition from some philosophers and clerics, and two of the latter eventually denounced him to the Roman Inquisition early in 1615. Although he was cleared of any offence at that time, the Catholic Church nevertheless condemned heliocentrism as "false and contrary to Scripture" in February 1616, and Galileo was warned to abandon his support for it—which he promised to do. When he later defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy," forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest."

"Based only on uncertain descriptions of the first practical telescope, invented by Hans Lippershey in the Netherlands in 1608, Galileo, in the following year, made a telescope with about 3x magnification. He later made others with up to about 30x magnification. With this improved device he could see magnified, upright images on the earth – it was what is now known as a terrestrial telescope, or spyglass. He could also use it to observe the sky; for a time he was one of those who could construct telescopes good enough for that purpose. On 25 August 1609, he demonstrated his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers. His telescopes were a profitable sideline. He could sell them to merchants who found them useful both at sea and as items of trade. He published his initial telescopic astronomical observations in March 1610 in a brief treatise entitled Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger).
On 7 January 1610 Galileo observed with his telescope what he described at the time as "three fixed stars, totally invisible by their smallness," all close to Jupiter, and lying on a straight line through it. Observations on subsequent nights showed that the positions of these "stars" relative to Jupiter were changing in a way that would have been inexplicable if they had really been fixed stars. On 10 January Galileo noted that one of them had disappeared, an observation which he attributed to its being hidden behind Jupiter. Within a few days he concluded that they were orbiting Jupiter: He had discovered three of Jupiter's four largest satellites (moons): Io, Europa, and Callisto. He discovered the fourth, Ganymede, on 13 January. Galileo named the four satellites he had discovered Medicean stars, in honour of his future patron, Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Cosimo's three brothers. Later astronomers, however, renamed them the Galilean satellites in honour of Galileo himself.


Monday, August 24, 2009

2009 French Chess Championships

The 2009 French Women's and French Men's Chess Championships were held in Nimes, from August 10th to August 22nd. WGM/IM Sophie Milliet won the French Women's Chess Championship with a score of 7/10. In second was WFM Pauline Guichard with a score of 5.5 points (on a tie-break over Mary LeConte), third was IM Silvia Collas).

Final Standings:
1.Milliet 7 points
2.Guichard 5.5 points
3.Leconte 5.5 points
4.Collas 5 points
5.Maisuradze 3.5 points
6.Congiu 3.5 points

Source of image of Sophie Milliet

Source of image of GM Vladislav Tkachiev:

In the Men's Championship, GM Vladislav Tkachiev was the victor with a score of 8.5/12. He finished a half-point ahead of second place finisher Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. In third place was GM Laurent Fressinet, with 6 points. Tkachiev's performance rating for this tournament was 2788 (he entered the event with an elo of 2650).

Here are the final standings:
1. Tkachiev 8.5 2.Vachier-Lagrave 8 points, 3.Fressient 6 points, 4.Edouard (on a tie-break over 4 other players:DeGraeve,Sokolov,Cornette and Hamdouchi all finished with 5.5 points. 9.Feller on a tie-break over Cossin (both finished with 5 points) 11.Maze 3.5 points 12.LeRoux 2.5 points

Congratulations to Sophie and Vladislav!

57th Hungarian Women's Championship

The 57th edition of the Hungarian Women's Chess Championship is presently taking place in Eger Hungary from August 21st-29th.

Here is a ranking of the players participating in this tournament:

1 3 Vajda Szidónia 2375 Atomerőmű SE Paks
2 2 Gara Tícia 2354 Aquaprofit Nagykanizsa SK
3 10 Gara Anita 2353 MTK-Erzsébetváros
4 7 Medvegy Nóra dr. 2344 Mátyásföldi Lawn Tenis Club
5 5 Rudolf Anna 2313 Hungaropharma-Decs
6 4 Lakos Nikoletta 2310 Haladás-SZOVA Szombathely
7 8 Tóth Sarolta 2236 Orosházi Sakk Egyesület
8 1 Papp Petra 2159 Csuti SK Zalaegerszeg
9 6 Dudás Eszter 2141 Atomerőmű SE Paks
10 9 Csatári Mariann 2117 Vasas SC Budapest

After 4 rounds of play, three players are tied for first with 3 points (pictured below from left to right):
WGM Anna Rudolf,WGM Ticia Gara, and IM Szidonia Vajda.

The official tournament website is at:

Russia-China Chess Match

The two powerhouse nations of Chess, Russia and China staged a chess match. The match was played from August 14-August 24,2009 in Sochi. Sochi is the official site of XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games of 2014.

This chess competition had each player on each team play 5 classical games, 10 rapid games and 10 blitz games.
In the end it was the team from Russia that won the overall event:


Women Standard China 13.5 - Russia 11.5 Women Rapid China 25 Russia 25 Women Blitz China 28 Russia 22

Women's Match finishes China 66.5 Russia 58.5.


Standard China 12 - Russia 13, Men Rapid China 21 Russia 29, Men Blitz China 20 Russia 30 Men's Match finishes China 53, Russia 72.

Total: China 119.5 - Russia 130.5

Reports on this Match can be read by going to these links:

Zuerich Chess Club 200th Anniversary

The 200th Anniversary of the Zuerich Chess Club is this year of 2009.
Founded in 1809, the Schachgesellschaft Zürich is the oldest chess club in the world, and is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year with a whole programme of jubilee events.

The strongest event was called the "Master" and it was won by GM Alexander Areshchenko on a tie-break over GM Boris Avrukh . Both had finished the tournament with scores of 7.5 points. Congratulations to GM Avrukh.

A Rapid chess tournament was also held and was won by former World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik. It was nice to see Judit Polgar playing chess again, she was one of the participants in the rapid event. The others players involved in the rapid chess event were: Viswanathan Anand, Anatoly Karpov, Alexander Khalifman,
Vladimir Kramnik, Ruslan Ponomariov, Veselin Topalov and Werner Hug.

The official website for this Chess Festival is


At the present time a unique chess event is taking place in the NH Grand Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The tournament involves 5 of the best young chess players in the World, who are competing against 5 of the most "established" chess players in modern chess. The format of the tournament is known as a ‘Scheveningen’ tournament, which means that each player of one team plays against each of the players of the other team. They do so twice, once with the white pieces and once with the black pieces.

Playing on the "Experienced" team are the following players:
(next to their country their current Elo rating is given):
1 Peter Svidler (Russia, 2726)
2 Peter Heine Nielsen (Denmark, 2668)
3 Alexander Beliavsky (Slovenia, 2640)
4 Loek van Wely (The Netherlands, 2622)
5 Ljubomir Ljubojevic (Serbia, 2553)

These 5 players are competing against this team of "Rising Stars":
1 Hikaru Nakamura (United States, 2701)
2 Fabiano Caruana (Italy, 2649)
3 Jan Smeets (The Netherlands, 2626)
4 Daniel Stellwagen (The Netherlands, 2619)
5 Hou Yifan (China, 2590)

The format of the tournament is 10 rounds of play.The first round of play was on August 20, and the last round of play is on August 31. It is great to see that a woman is participating in this event for one of the teams, that being Hou Yifan of China. It is too bad the organizers did not include at least one woman player on the "Experienced" team.

The official tournament website for this tournament is at:

Here are the scores after 5 rounds of play in the tournament:


Experience 13½
Rising stars 11½

Experience individual score

Svidler 3½
Ljubojevic 3
Nielsen 3
Van Wely 2½
Beliavsky 1½

Rising Stars individual score

Smeets 3½
Caruana 2 ½
Nakamura 2½
Hou Yifan 2
Stellwagen 1

You can follow the games from each day by clicking on this link:

The games from the rounds which have already been played can be viewed at:

Round reports and PGN files of all the games can be downloaded at:

This tournament had its origin in 2007 and is a great way for these younger players to get experience.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jermuk Grand Prix:Final Crosstable

If you need to enlarge the crosstable to read it then just click on it.

GM Ivanchuk wins the FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Jermuk!!

GrandMaster Vassily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine today won the FIDE Grand Prix Chess tournament in Nalchik, Armenia. Ivanchuk won his last round game against Armenian GM Vladimir Akopian,.This victory gave Ivanchuk 8.5 points for the tournament.

GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, and GM Peter Leko, who were tied with Ivanchuk for first place going into the 13th and final round of play however Kasimidzhanov drew his last round game and Leko lost his ,which meant Ivanchuk finished a half-point clear of Kasimdzhanov and Boris Gelfand, in the final standings.

Here are all the results from the last round of play:

Round 13 (the player on the left had the white pieces in the game):
Aronian- Inarkiev result: 1-0, no. of moves:57

Gelfand- Leko result: 1-0, no. of moves:78

Karjakin-Kamsky result:draw, no. of moves:43

Eljanov-Kasimdzhanov result:draw, no. of moves:27

Bacrot-Cheparinov result:draw no. of moves:37

Jakovenko-Alekseev result:draw no. of moves:19

Akopian -Ivanchuk result:0-1 no. of moves:62

Congratulations GM Ivanchuk!!

You can play through the moves of each of the games from round 13 by clicking on the following link:

Photo of GM Ivanchuk:Credit:Frederic Friedel Source:

The treachery that won't stop haunting Europe

The treachery that won't stop haunting Europe

Written by Robert Lawson
From Saturday's Globe and Mail

"Europeans were supposed to celebrate a new holiday tomorrow. Last month, while meeting in the capital of Lithuania, elected members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) declared a "Europe-wide day of remembrance for victims of Stalinism and nazism."

And what better occasion to launch such a commemoration than the 70th anniversary of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Treaty? After all, the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed on Aug. 23, 1939, days before the outbreak of the Second World War, and is often blamed for sparking the conflict."

"But there will be no holiday tomorrow. Russia objected instantly to the OSCE's Vilnius Declaration, which referred to "genocide, violations of human rights and freedoms, war crimes and crimes against humanity" perpetrated under the two major totalitarian regimes. Moscow strenuously rejected any comparison of Hitler to Stalin, along with any attempt to blame the former Soviet Union for starting something that caused it so much pain."

"Which raises two questions: Why is the agreement still an open wound so long after the fact, and why, if it really was such an astonishing pact between bitter ideological rivals, did they sign it in the first place?"

To read the remainder of this article please click on this link:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Jermuk:round 11 and 12 results and crosstable

Round 11

Here are the results from the 11th round of play at the FIDE Grand Prix chess event in Jermuk,Armenia. (The player on the left had the white pieces in the game):

Kasimdzhanov - Leko result: draw: no,. of moves: 31
Gelfand - Kamsky result: draw no. of moves: 45
Karjakin - Alekseev result: draw no. of moves: 50
Eljanov - Cheparinov result: 1-0 no. of moves: 53
Bacrot - Ivanchuk result: draw no. of moves: 63
Akopian - Aronian result: draw no. of moves: 40
Jakovenko - Inarkiev result: 0-1 no. of moves: 42

As a consequence of these games, here are the standings after 11 rounds of play:

1-3 Ivanchuk,Kasimdzhanov and Leko 7 points
4-5 Alekseev and Aronian 6.5 points
6-7 Gelfand and Karjakin 6.0 points
8 Bacrot 5.0 points
9-10 Kamsky and Akopian 4.5 points
9-11 Jakovenko and Inarkiev 4.0 points
12-13 Cheparinov 3.0 points

Round 12
Here is what happened in the round 12 games:

Ivanchuk - Jakovenko result: draw no. of moves: 40
Leko - Aronian result:draw no. of moves: 45
Kasimdzhanov - Gelfand result: 0-1 no. of moves: 41
Alekseev - Bacrot result: draw no. of moves: 58
Kamsky - Eljanov result: 1-0 no. of moves: 66
Inarkiev - Akopian result: draw no. of moves: 47
Cheparinov - Karjakin result: draw no. of moves: 33

These results mean the following standings exist going into the last round of play on Sunday:

1-2 Ivanchuk and Leko 7.5 points

3-6 Alekseev Kasimdzhanov all have
Gelfand and Aronian 7 points

7 Karjakin 6.5 points

8 Eljanov 6 points

9-10 Kamsky and Bacrot 5.5 points

11 Akopian 5 points

12 Inarkiev and Jakovenko 4.5 points

13 Cheparinov 3.5 points

You can play through the games from round 11 move by move by clicking on this link:

You can play through the games for round 12 by clicking on this link:
Here are the pairings for the last round of play on Sunday (the player on the left has the white pieces in the game):


What happens if players are tied for first place at the end of round 13?

"As prizes and GP ranking points are shared equally, in cases of any tied position/s. No tie break system will be utilised for the individual GP tournaments. The process of determining the overall winner of the series, in the case of a tie, is defined in Article 7.2"

Tie Break for Overall Winner :

With the objective of determining a clear, single winner to play in the Challenger Match and in the case that two or more players have equal cumulative points at the top, the following criteria will be utilized to decide the overall G.P winner:

1. 4th result not already taken in the top three results;

2. No. of actual game result points scored in the four tournaments;

3. No. of 1st places [in case of a tie - points given accordingly];

4. No. of 2nd places [in case of a tie - points given accordingly];

5. No. of wins;

6. Drawing of lots

How serious a problem is global warming? This serious....

U.S. Bans Commercial Fishing in Warming Arctic
"The Obama administration approved a management plan yesterday for Arctic fisheries that prevents the expansion of commercial fishing into vast swaths of sea whose ice is being melted by rising temperatures."

"As Arctic sea ice recedes due to climate change, there is increasing interest in commercial fishing in Arctic waters," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement yesterday. "We are in a position to plan for sustainable fishing that does not damage the overall health of this fragile ecosystem. This plan takes a precautionary approach to any development of commercial fishing in an area where there has been none in the past."

"Crafted by the regional fishery management council in Alaska, the new Arctic Fishery Management Plan closes about 150,000 square nautical miles, an area larger than California and five times larger than all national parks combined."

There is currently no significant commercial fishing in the area, but fisheries managers expect it to become a target for commercial fishers chasing cod and snow crab as ice melts and fisheries shift north. The council drafted the plan to protect the area until researchers can determine what fishing is sustainable in the fragile ecosystem.

Fishers and scientists are seeing fish populations shift around Alaska as waters warm. Walleye pollock, the cornerstone of the state's fishing industry, are moving north as temperatures rise. And some fishers have seen Pacific and jack mackerel -- usually found in California waters -- off the southeastern coast of Alaska.

The effort to ban fishing in the northernmost Arctic waters has been endorsed by Audubon Alaska, Oceana, the Ocean Conservancy and the Pew Environment Group.

Environmentalists said today that they hope the administration's approval of the plan is a signal of more precautionary policy for the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Janis Searles Jones, vice president of the Ocean Conservancy, called it a "landmark decision" that indicates the tide is turning for Arctic policy.

"The Arctic is our planet's air conditioner, and it plays a key role in regulating global climate," Searles Jones said. "Expanding industrial uses in a region that is poorly understood and already under enormous stress could have dire consequences, not only for the Arctic but for the planet as a whole."

The plan is also backed by Alaska's major commercial fishing group, the Marine Conservation Alliance, which represents about 70 percent of the state's groundfish and crab industry.

Source of article:

Source of image:

Mysterious Origins: 8 Phenomena That Defy Explanation

Presently at the Scientific America website there is an interesting slide show, dealing with 8 Phenomena which defy explanation. You can read this by going to this link:

Wikipedia operator gets $500,000 foundation grant

SAN FRANCISCO -- The nonprofit organization that operates the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia has received a $500,000 grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to expand its work bringing free educational content to people around the globe.

The Hewlett Foundation says Wikipedia plays an important role in making information freely accessible. The foundation has made more than $100 million in grants since 2001 to promote the availability of high quality educational materials that anyone can use and edit for free.

San Francisco-based Wikimedia says the grant will help it make its software more user friendly, develop training materials to engage new potential volunteer editors and set up key metrics to track the organization's impact.

Last year, the mammoth Internet encyclopedia built by volunteers received its largest donation ever -- $3 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.



It is great to see that this grant has taken place. As far as I am concerned, the only way humans are going to come together as a species, and survive on this planet, is using education as a key ingredient to the recipe of survival. The good thing about "Wikimedia", is that it requires those who add to the information database of the encylopedia with submissions, to support their text with references, so that the information is reliable and valid.

Think you're going in circles? You are - German researchers say that's how people tend to walk

TUEBINGEN, Germany - Ever feel that no matter how hard you try, you're walking in circles? A preliminary study by European scientists says that you are.

According to the study carried out using global positioning software, the myth that people who try to walk a straight line and find themselves going in circles is actually true.

The study was carried out by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics and published in Thursday's edition of Current Biology.

"What we found is that people really do walk in circles," the lead researcher, Jan Souman, told The Associated Press this week.

He said that studies of nine people walking in the desert and in a forest found that all tended to go in circles and/or veer from a straight line if there was nothing to guide their way.

In the desert, Souman said two people were told to walk a straight line during the day. While neither managed to go in a complete circle, they both veered off from walking a straight line. The third walked at night, by the light of the full moon, but when it was obscured by clouds he made several turns, ending up in the direction he came.

In another test, six students were taken to a large but flat forest and told to walk a straight line. Four of them walked under a cloudy sky with the sun hidden from view by the trees and clouds. They all ended up walking in circles despite thinking they were going straight.

The other two managed to stay fairly straight but Souman said that was because the sun was out.

"The people who were walking in circles in the forest couldn't see the sun," he said.

All nine walkers were tracked with GPS and their routes - straight, circuitous or otherwise - were digitally mapped.

Like those in the desert, when the sun was out, the forest walkers were able to stay on a straighter course.

However, put on a blindfold and ear plugs and "people did all kinds of things," Souman said.

"One always went in circles. One went in a zigzag," he said. "It was really hard to find a common denominator."

Souman said similar tests are being done using virtual reality with the results, so far, showing that walkers "seemed to do the same thing in the virtual forest, too."

As for why the tests have been done, Souman explained that the results, along with future tests, will help map how the human brain sorts various sensory stimuli from sight and hearing to help guide people.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Baltic Queen Chess tournament: round 8 and 9 results and final standings: Arkhamia-Grant wins!

Here are the results from round 8 and 9 of the tournament (the player who had the white pieces in the game is on the left):

Round 8 results

Atalik - Arakhamia-Grant result: 0-1
Paehtz- Cmilyte result: 1-0
Bodnaruk- Turova result: 1-0
Zhukova- Cramling result: 1-0
Peng Z. - Demina result: draw

Round 9 results
Arakhamia-Grant-Peng Z. result: draw
Cramling - Atalik result: draw
Cmilyte - Zhukova result: 1-0
Demina - Bodnaruk result: draw
Turova - Paehtz result:draw

These results mean the following Final standings occurred::

1 Arakhamia-Grant 6 points
2 Atalik 5.5 points
3-5 Cmilyte,Paehtz 5 points
and Cramling

6 Bodnaruk 4.5 points
7 Zhukova 4 points

8-9 Demina and 3.5 points

10 Peng Zhaoqin 3 points

Congratulations to GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant for winning the tournament! Her performance rating in the tournament was 2608. Ketevan gained the male GM title in March of this year.

source of photo of KetevanArkamia -Grant:

FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Jermuk:round 10 results and crosstable

Here are the results from round 10 of the FIDE Grand Prix Tournament in Jermuk,Armenia:(the player on the left had the white pieces in the game):

Ivanchuk - Karjakin, result:draw
Leko - Akopian, result:draw
Aronian - Jakovenko, result:1-0
Alekseev- Eljanov, result:1-0
Kamsky- Kasimdzhanov, result:draw
Inarkiev- Bacrot, result:1-0
Cheparinov- Gelfand, result:0-1

As a consequence of these results here are the standings after 10 rounds of play:

1-3 Ivanchuk,Kasimdzhanov and Leko 6.5 points
4-5 Alekseev and Aronian 6 points
6-7 Gelfand and Karjakin 5.5 points
8 Bacrot 4.5 points
9-11 Kamsky,Jakovenko and Akopian 4.0 points
12-13 Inarkiev and Cheparinov 3.0 points

Here are the pairings for round 11:
(the player on the left has the white pieces in the game):

Gelfand -Kamsky
Eljanov -Cheparinov
Karjakin -Alekseev
Bacrot -Ivanchuk
Jakovenko -Inarkiev
Akopian -Aronian

You can play through all the games from the tournament move by move by going to this link (where Grandmaster analysis also exists):

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It is nice to see.....

It is nice to see that some oil companies in this World can act in the interests of other species on the planet. I am saying this due to the announcement made by Oilmoz, an energy firm located in Mozambique, Africa.

The firm has announced "has moved the site for a planned $8-billion (U.S.) oil refinery to avoid putting a nearby elephant reserve at risk, the chairman said yesterday. The proposed site for the 350,000-barrel-a-day refinery has been shifted from the southernmost district of Matutuine, home of the Maputo Elephant Reserve, to Marracuene, 125 kilometres to the north. Oilmoz chairman Leonardo Simao, a former foreign minister of Mozambique, said the change of site won't slow construction on the refinery, which is scheduled to open in 2014."


Of course it would be much better if the elephants in Mozambique were allowed to roam where they wanted to, rather than being confined to a reserve. There certainly are alot of tourist businesses offering trips to this reserve on the internet!! AIs allowing these tourists in the best interests of the elephants and the other animals? However this decision on the part of Oilmoz, hopefully will convince Mozambique authorities who are in charge of "managing" the elephants, to change their view of Elephants. I say this because based on research I did concerning the elephants in Mozambique these intelligent and sensitive animals are considered to be: "problem animals". The government in 2007 authorised the army to shoot "problem animals"!!! (source:

Image: Elephants in Quirimbas National Park, Mozambique

Spectacular view of Hurricane Bill from the International Space Station

Here is a spectacular view of Hurricane Bill from the International Space Station.

IR Image from Newest Weather Satellite:Hurricane Bill

"On August 17, 2009, at 1:31 p.m. EST, the latest NASA/NOAA geostationary weather satellite, called GOES-14, returned its first full-disk thermal infrared (IR) image, showing radiation with a wavelength of 10.7 micrometers emanating from Earth. Infrared images are useful because they provide information about temperatures. A wavelength of 10.7 micrometers is 15 times longer than the longest wavelength of light (red) that people can see, but scientists can turn the data into a picture by having a computer display cold temperatures as bright white and hot temperatures as black. The hottest (blackest) features in the scene are land surfaces; the coldest (whitest) features in the scene are clouds."

"In the heat of the midday sun, the exposed rock in sparsely vegetated mountain ranges and high-altitude deserts in western North and South America are dark. In North America, the temperatures cool (fade to lighter gray) along a gradient from west to east, as the semi-deserts of the West and Southwest transition to the grasslands and croplands of the Great Plains, which transition to forests in the East."


Bill was maintaining a top wind speed of 135 mph Wednesday, and forecasters said it could get stronger. The storm's center was located 380 miles east of the Leeward Islands -- or more than 1,500 miles southeast of Miami -- and it was moving west-northwest near 18 mph. (

Here is a fascinating Infrared Image of Hurricane Bill from the newest Nasa weather Satellite: (please click on the image to make it larger)

From an altitude of 225 statute miles, cameras on the International Space Station captured spectacular views of Hurricane Bill

Baltic Queen Chess tournament:standings after 7 rounds

1.Atalik 5 points
2-3. Arakamia and Cramling 4.5 points
4 Cmilyte 4 points
5 Paehtz 3.5 points
6 Turova,Bodnaruk and 3 points
9 Demina 2.5 points
10 Peng 2 points

Baltic Queen Chess Tournament

The Baltic Queen chess tournament is being held in St Petersburg, Russia from August 11th-20th. This event is an all-woman competion involving the following players:

Pia Cramling (Sweden) - Pia holds the Men's grandmaster title, ELO 2525.

Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (Scotland) -Ketevan holds the Men's grandmaster, ELO 2506.

Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany) - has the Woman grandmaster title and , Men's international master title, ELO 2474.

Viktorija Cmilyte (Lithuania) -She has the Woman grandmaster title and the , Men's international master title, ELO 2470.

Natalia Zhukova (Ukraine) -has the Women grandmaster title, ELO 2465.

Ekaterina Atalik (Turkey) - holds the Women's grandmaster title and the Men's international master title, ELO 2434.

Zhaoqin Peng (Netherlands) -holds the Men's grandmaster, ELO 2418.

Anastasia Bodnaruk (St. Petersburg, Russia) -has achieved the the Women's grandmaster title, ELO 2388.

Irina Turova (Arkhangelsk, Russia) - has the Women's grandmaster title and the Men's international master title, ELO 2387.

Julia Demina (St. Petersburg, Russia) - holds the Woman grandmaster title, ELO 2378.

Here are the results from the first 7 rounds of play:
Round 1: August 11th 15:00
Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2388 - Peng, Zhaoqin 2418 1-0
Paehtz, Elisabeth 2474 - Demina, Julia 2378 ½-½
Zhukova, Natalia 2465 - Turova, Irina 2387 ½-½
Atalik, Ekaterina 2434 - Cmilyte, Viktorija 2470 1-0
Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2506 - Cramling, Pia 2525 ½-½

Round 2: August 12th 15:00
Peng, Zhaoqin 2418 - Cramling, Pia 2525 0-1
Cmilyte, Viktorija 2470 - Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2506 1-0
Turova, Irina 2387 - Atalik, Ekaterina 2434 ½-½
Demina, Julia 2378 - Zhukova, Natalia 2465 ½-½
Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2388 - Paehtz, Elisabeth 2474 0-1

Round 3: August 13th 15:00
Paehtz, Elisabeth 2474 - Peng, Zhaoqin 2418 ½-½
Zhukova, Natalia 2465 - Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2388 ½-½
Atalik, Ekaterina 2434 - Demina, Julia 2378 1-0
Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2506 - Turova, Irina 2387 1-0
Cramling, Pia 2525 - Cmilyte, Viktorija 2470 1-0

Round 4: August 14th 15:00
Peng, Zhaoqin 2418 - Cmilyte, Viktorija 2470 0-1
Turova, Irina 2387 - Cramling, Pia 2525 ½-½
Demina, Julia 2378 - Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2506 1-0
Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2388 - Atalik, Ekaterina 2434 ½-½
Paehtz, Elisabeth 2474 - Zhukova, Natalia 2465 ½-½

Round 5: August 15th 15:00
Zhukova, Natalia 2465 - Peng, Zhaoqin 2418 ½-½
Atalik, Ekaterina 2434 - Paehtz, Elisabeth 2474 1-0
Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2506 - Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2388 1-0
Cramling, Pia 2525 - Demina, Julia 2378 1-0
Cmilyte, Viktorija 2470 - Turova, Irina 2387 ½-½

Rest day: August 16th

Round 6: August 17th 15:00
Peng, Zhaoqin 2418 - Turova, Irina 2387 ½-½
Demina, Julia 2378 - Cmilyte, Viktorija 2470 0-1
Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2388 - Cramling, Pia 2525 ½-½
Paehtz, Elisabeth 2474 - Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2506 0-1
Zhukova, Natalia 2465 - Atalik, Ekaterina 2434 ½-½

Round 7: August 18th 15:00
Atalik, Ekaterina 2434 - Peng, Zhaoqin 2418 ½-½
Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2506 - Zhukova, Natalia 2465 1-0
Cramling, Pia 2525 - Paehtz, Elisabeth 2474 0-1
Cmilyte, Viktorija 2470 - Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2388 ½-½
Turova, Irina 2387 - Demina, Julia 2378 ½-½

The offical tournament website is at:

FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Jermuk:round 8 and 9 results and crosstable

Round 8 summary
Here are the results from round 8 of the FIDE Grand Prix chess tournament in Jermuk, Armenia: (the player on the left had the white pieces in the game):

Leko-Jakovenko result: draw
Akopian-Bacrot result: draw
Aronian-Karjakin result:draw
Inarkiev-Eljanov result:draw
Ivanchuk-Gelfand result:1-0
Alekseev-Kasimdzhanov result: draw
Cheparinov Ivan-Kamsky result:draw

As a consequence of these games here are the standings after 8 rounds of play:

1-2. Leko Peter (2756 HUN) and Ivanchuk Vassily (2703 UKR) - 5.5
3. Kasimdzhanov Rustam (2672 UZB) - 5.0
4-7. Aronian Levon (2768 ARM), Alekseev Evgeny (2714 RUS), Eljanov Pavel (2716 UKR) and Karjakin Sergey (2717 UKR) - 4.5
8-9. Bacrot Etienne (2721 FRA) and Gelfand Boris (2755 ISR) - 4.0
10. Jakovenko Dmitry (2760 RUS) - 3.5
11-13. Kamsky Gata (2717 USA), Cheparinov Ivan (2678 BUL) and Akopian Vladimir (2712 ARM) - 3.0
14. Inarkiev Ernesto (2675 RUS) - 1.5

Round 9 summary
Kasimdzhanov- Cheparinov result: 1-0
Eljanov - Ivanchuk result:draw
Karjakin - Inarkiev result: draw
Bacrot - Aronian result:draw
Gelfand - Alekseev result:draw
Jakovenko- Akopian result:draw
Kamsky- Leko, Peter result:draw


1-3 Ivanchuk, Kasimdzhanov, and Leko, 6 points

4-7 Alekseev, Eljanov,Karjakin
and Aronian 5 points

8-9 Gelfand, and Bacrot 4.5 points

10 Jakovenko 4 points

11-12 Kamsky and Akopian 3.5 points

13 Cheparinov 3 points

14 Inarkiev 2 points

Round 10 Pairings
Here are the pairings for round 10 (the player on the left has the white pieces):


Monday, August 17, 2009

Alcon blue butterfly larvae enslave ants

The chemical con trick used by Alcon blue butterfly larvae to get ants to take care of them has been detailed by scientists working in Denmark.
The Alcon blue grubs are well known for deceiving the ants into feeding them while letting their own brood starve.

David Nash and colleagues describe in Science Magazine how larval odours mimic those of the ants' own young.

The closer the hydrocarbon chemistry, the more successful the butterfly is in attracting the ants, they report.

"The caterpillars first start developing on a food plant but after they reach a certain stage, they leave the food plant and wait on the ground to be discovered by these ants," explained Dr Nash.

"They mimic the surface chemicals that the ants have on their own brood, and we've been able to show that the closer that mimicry, the faster they get picked up by ants and taken back to the ant nest and put amongst their own brood," he told the magazine's podcast.

"Once they are there, they become highly virulent parasites: they eat some of the brood and they will also get fed by the worker ants, and get fed in preference to the ants' own brood."

The researchers studied several sites in Denmark where the Alcon (Maculinea alcon) caterpillars develop on a marsh plant before Myrmica rubra and Myrmica ruginodis ants bring them into their nests.

By looking at the patterns of infection/resistance and the genetics of different populations, the team was able to describe how the separate chemistries of the butterflies and the ants co-evolve in what amounts to an ongoing "arms race" - giving each animal periods and locations of dominance in their relationship.


Facts about Alcon blue butterflies and their larvae:
1.Their scientific name is Maculinea alcon.

2.These butterflies are only found in Europe and Northern Asia.

3.Alon blue butterflies can be characterized as being "myrmecophile". To be
myrmecophile means that an organism lives in association with ants. Myrmecophily literally means ant-loving and refers to mutualistic associations with ants, though in its more general use the term may also refer to commensal or even parasitic interactions.

4.The butterfly lays its eggs onto the Marsh Gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe); in the region of the Alps they are sometimes also found on the related Willow Gentian (Gentiana asclepiadea). The caterpillars eat no other plants.
Alcon larvae leave the food plant when they have grown sufficiently (4th instar) and wait on the ground below to be discovered by ants. The larvae emit surface chemicals (allomones) that closely match those of ant larvae, causing the ants to carry the Alcon larvae into their nests and place them in their brood chambers, where they are fed by worker ants and where they devour ant larvae.
When the Alcon larva is fully developed it pupates. Once the adult hatches it must run the gauntlet of escaping. The ants recognise the butterfly to be an intruder, but when they go to attack it with their jaws they can't grab anything substantial as the newly emerged adult butterfly is thickly clothed in loosely attached scales.
Over time, some ant colonies that are parasitized in this manner will slightly change their larva chemicals as a defense, leading to an evolutionary "arms race" between the two species

The Maculinea alcon larvae are sought underground by the Ichneumon eumerus wasp. On detecting a M. alcon larva the wasp enters the nest and sprays a pheromone that causes the ants to attack each other. In the resulting confusion the wasp locates the butterfly larva and injects it with its eggs. On pupation, the wasp eggs hatch and consume the chrysalis from the inside.[6]Sources of information used:

Source of image of larvae:
Source of image of Ichneumon eumerus wasp:

Killer whales visit 'social clubs'

Written by Jody Bourton
Up to 100 fish-eating killer whales come together in the Avacha Gulf, off the coast of Russia.
But no-one knew why these orcas form these huge superpods, when they normally live in smaller groups.
Now scientists report in the Journal of Ethology that these groups act as clubs in which the killer whales form and maintain social ties.
Fish-eating killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Avacha Gulf live in stable groups called pods that contain an average of ten individuals and up to 20 in the largest pods.
But researchers have seen up to eight of these pods coming together to form large groups of up to 100 animals.

These large aggregations of pods are seen in numerous places around the world where large numbers of killer whales occur such as British Columbia, Alaska, Iceland and Antarctica.
It is unlikely that the whales gather for protection as they have no natural predators.
In the past researchers have suggested that the killer whales meet to increase their foraging success or to breed.
But the behaviour has not been quantified before.
To investigate, Olga Filatova of the Moscow State University and colleagues from the Far East Russia Orca project observed and photographed whales in the Avacha Gulf from a 4m long boat.
"At first we might see just a few spouts on the horizon. Then quickly we move among them, keeping a distance of a hundred metres so as not to bother them," explained project co-director Erich Hoyt of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), which provided the majority of funding for the project.
"As far as the eye can see, in every direction you see groupings of two to six killer whales surfacing, spouting then dipping below the surface."
"Each grouping has a focal mother figure surrounded by her offspring, some of whom may be full grown males with up to 2m dorsal fins that tower over the females," he says.
hey also used a special underwater directional microphone called a hydrophone to record the sound of the killer whale vocalisations.
Each pod of fish-eating killer whales in the Avacha Gulf has a specific vocal dialect which could be pinpointed by the hydrophone, while individual killer whales can also be identified by the shape of their dorsal fins and markings.
That allowed the scientists to analyse the killer whales' behaviour.
The whales rarely forage and feed when they gather into a much larger superpod, the scientists found.
That suggests they do not gather to herd fish or increase their foraging success. In fact, say the scientists, depending on the type of prey, a superpod might have the effect of decreasing the feeding success of each whale making it unproductive to feed in large groups.
However, the killer whales did interact much more during these large gatherings that lasted from a few hours to almost half a day.
When meeting killer whales from other family pods, they made contact with each other, swam in synchrony and rubbed flippers much more often, the researchers found.
Sexual activity also increased, suggesting that these big aggregations provide a chance to assess potential breeding partners.
However, these behaviours likely have a greater function beyond reproduction, the scientists believe.
They enable the killer whales to establish and maintain social bonds and it is for that reason that the killer whales gather in core meeting areas and form large aggregations.
"The superpods are like big social clubs," says Hoyt. "These clubs could help them stay acquainted, could be part of the courting process but could have other functions that we need to learn about."
Maintaining social bonds is crucial for many social mammals which live and hunt together.

Looking for a mate?
But maintaining connections with the wider community may be especially important for killer whales, which tend to live long lives in relatively small communities with low birth rates.
Killer whales also face challenges with high calf mortality rates which may be as high as 50% in the first six months.
"Understanding more about their social lives, including their reproduction, will be crucial to our future understanding of them and our ability to keep their population healthy," Hoyt says.
The team has also recently extended the study outside of the Avacha Gulf further north and south along the Kamchatka coast and to the offshore Commander Islands to learn more about other killer whale groups, including the mammal-eating type of killer whale that feeds on porpoises, seals and sea otters.


Source of image:

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:
Chess needs more women and girl participants and administrators!

Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.