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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A $1.5m Superman comic book

Superman making his debut in Action Comics #1 ...Image via Wikipedia
Rare comic of Superman debut fetches $1.5 millionBy the CNN Wire Staff
March 30, 2010 7:41 p.m. EDT

 (CNN) -- The comic debut of Superman has sold for an out-of-this-world price.
The copy of Action Comics No. 1 from 1938, which features the first appearance of the "Man of Steel" was bought by an undisclosed buyer for a record $1.5 million Monday on the online auction site
"This is the Holy Grail of Holy Grails," said Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of the Web site.
A copy of the same issue sold for $1 million in February, but this one fetched a higher price because it is in better condition. It was stored inside a movie magazine for the past 50 years, Zurzolo said.
"The book looks like it just came off the presses yesterday," said Zurzolo. "The colors are extremely vivid, the whites behind the 'Action Comics' logo are snow white. It's just a stunning copy -- it almost looks brand new."
The sale of the Superman book marks the third time this year that a record was set for the sale of a comic book. The other copy of "Action Comics" No. 1 held onto its record for only three days before a comic book featuring Batman's debut sold for $75,000 more at an auction in Dallas, Texas.
It's widely believed that there are 50 to 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 floating around, which makes it exceedingly rare. However, the copy sold Monday has received the highest rating to date from the Certified Guaranty Company, an independent comic grading company in Sarasota, Florida. The company inspects comic books for imperfections, ranging from yellowing to slight creases.
J.C. Vaughn, the associate publisher of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, an annual publication considered the authority on comic book pricing, said the Action Comic No. 1 book sold Monday is worth every penny.
"The older any comic book gets, obviously the more unlikely you'll find it with a high rating," said Vaughn. "A book this old, featuring Superman's first appearance? I think this book warrants the price."
Back in 1938, there were 200,000 of these first editions printed and 130,000 sold, said Vaughn. The 70,000 other copies were destroyed.
Zurzolo said it could be a while before another comic book sets a new mark, because only a few other comics have this type of value.
"You will see a lot of very high-priced comic books selling in the next few years," he said. "But until these books hit the market again I don't think you'll see the same exact type of numbers in the near future."
ComicConnect wouldn't reveal the buyer of the $1.5 million Superman book.
"Our buyer, much like most of the superheroes out there, has a secret identity and would rather remain that way," Zurzolo said.
However, he added that the customer has a tremendous passion for superhero comic books and is especially fond of Superman.
"Superman was the first superhero," said Zurzolo. "Without Superman there would be no Batman, Spider Man, Wolverine, Wonder Woman -- they all came about because of the immense success of Action Comics and the first appearance of Superman."
Alex Rae, the back issue buyer for Midtown Comics, one of the nation's largest comic book dealers located in New York, said if he had his choice of any comic book in the world, it would be the one just purchased.
"It revolutionized the comic book industry," he said.

From; see the source article here.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Popeye coming back - in 3D

Cover of "Popeye"Cover of Popeye

'Popeye' to hit the big screen in 3D
Posted: 24 March 2010 0339 hrs

LOS ANGELES - Popeye's famously massive forearms will bulge larger than ever when the squinty-eyed sailor makes his return to the big screen in 3D, industry media reported Tuesday.

Variety magazine reported that a deal has been reached to release a new animated movie starring the flinty seaman, his longtime love interest Olive Oyl, nemesis Bluto and adopted child Swee'Pea.

No date has been announced for the movie's release.

The film will be made by Sony Pictures Animation with its ImageWorks division handling the computer graphics.


Cartoon characters Popeye (L) and his partner Olive Oil are pictured at Universal Studios.


"As one of the earliest animated characters... Popeye has become one of the most enduring and iconic cartoon characters of all time and indelibly linked to the evolution of animation," said Hannah Minghella, president of production for Sony Pictures Animation.

Popeye was last seen on the big screen in 1980 when comedian Robin Williams starred in a live-action version directed by Robert Altman.

Created by E.C. Segar, the animated character Popeye first appeared in the already established "Thimble Theater" comic strip in 1929.

Introduced as a walk-on character, Popeye eventually became the strip's star.

In each episode of the cartoon, the iconic sailor invariably succeeds in getting himself or his associates out of a jam, but only after consuming a can of spinach, which has the effect of magically giving him Herculean strength.

- AFP /ls

From; see the source article here.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Philippines: A rare mule-footed hog

Swine influenza is endemic in pigsImage via Wikipedia

Rare pig with solid, non-cloven hooves found in Nueva Vizcaya
03/09/2010 06:53 PM

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya - A rare pig with mule-like hooves is being raised in a farm in this landlocked province.

The mulefoot is the rarest of American swine breeds because of its distinctive solid hooves.

An article from the American Mulefoot Pig Association & Registry has confirmed that the pig is unusual.

Mulefoots are a breed of domestic pig which is named for its solid, non-cloven hooves.

Shown is a mulefoot hog raised by William Ongto Jr. in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya. The breed is known for its distinctive solid hooves Floro Taguinod, GMANews.TV

These pigs are typically black, on rare occasions having white spots, and reach a weight of 400-600 pounds by the age of two years.

These hogs likely originated with those brought by the Spanish to the Gulf Coast.

Articles from the internet show that the said hog breed flourished during the early half of the century, but by 1985, it was said that only one herd of mulefoot hogs has remained and these belong to a hog raiser from Louisiana, Missouri.

Mulefoot hogs are considered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy to be critically rare, as there are now fewer than 150 documented purebred hogs of this specie in existence.

William Ongto, a wild hog raiser from Bagabag town and the owner of the said mulefoot, said it was a gift from a friend who lives in the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya.

In the meantime, provincial veterinarian Crisanto Seraspi confirmed that the mulefoot pig being raised by Ongto is definitely one of a kind.

Theres no question about it, Mr. Ongto is in possession of a very, very rare hog specie," he told GMANews.TV. - RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV

From; see the source article here.

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Ancient ships discovered at sea bottom

The Wasa from the stern, Stockholm, May 2004Image via Wikipedia

Centuries-old shipwrecks discovered in Baltic Sea
09-March-2010 11:31 PM

STOCKHOLM - A dozen centuries-old shipwrecks some of them unusually well-preserved have been found in the Baltic Sea by a gas company building an underwater pipeline between Russia and Germany.

The oldest wreck probably dates back to medieval times and could be up to 800 years old, while the others are likely from the 17th to 19th centuries, Peter Norman of Sweden's National Heritage Board said Tuesday.

"They could be interesting, but we have only seen pictures of their exterior. Many of them are considered to be fully intact. They look very well-preserved," Norman told The Associated Press.

Thousands of wrecks from medieval ships to warships sunk during the world wars of the 20th century have been found in the Baltic Sea, which doesn't have the ship worm that destroys wooden wrecks in saltier oceans.

The latest discovery was made during a search of the seabed east of the Swedish island of Gotland by the Nord Stream consortium, which is building a 750-mile (1,200-kilometer) pipeline in the Baltic Sea.

The 12 wrecks were found in a 30-mile-long and 2-mile-wide (48-kilometer-long and 1.2 kilometer-wide) corridor, Nord Stream spokeswoman Tora Leifland Holmstrom said.

The heritage board said three of the wrecks have intact hulls and are lying upside-down at a depth of 430 feet (130 meters).

Swedish marine archaeology experts analyzed pictures of the wrecks and determined that they could be of a high historic value.

"The content can tell us a lot about everyday life during that time," Norman said.

It's unclear whether any of them will be salvaged but the board said it hopes they will be explored by divers though Norman added many of them are at a depth that would require very advanced and costly diving operations.

The Nord Stream consortium, which plans to start construction in April, has promised to make sure its activities don't damage the wrecks. The area where they were found is in Sweden's economic zone, but not in the planned route of the pipeline, Leifland Holmstrom said.

The Nord Stream project, in which Russia's OAO Gazprom holds a 51 percent stake, has uncovered scores of other objects during seabed searches of the route, including about 80 sea mines and a washing machine, she said.

Last year, parts of a 300-year-old ship were salvaged from Germany's Bay of Greifswald to clear a path for the pipeline, which expects to carry some 1.9 trillion cubic feet (55 billion cubic meters) of natural gas a year.

Sweden's most famous maritime discovery, the royal warship Vasa, is housed in a popular museum in Stockholm where visitors can admire the ship's details, down to the flashing teeth of the carved lions that adorn its elaborate exterior. The Vasa was raised from the Stockholm harbor in 1961, 333 years after it sank on its maiden voyage. - AP

From; see the source article here.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sentosa Theme Park: come visit Singapore!

The current official logo for Universal Studio...Image via Wikipedia

Sentosa Theme Park opens March 18
Posted: 05 March 2010 1213 hrs

SINGAPORE: Resorts World Sentosa will open the gates of the Universal Studios Singapore theme park on March 18 at 8.28am.

Ticket sales for the soft opening phase will begin at 9 am on March 10 and on March 13, the park's first guests will be team members of Resorts World Sentosa, who will be the first to enjoy Universal Studios Singapore with their families.

As it's still during the theme park's preview phase, there will be limited tickets and certain attractions may be temporarily unavailable as Universal Studios Singapore continues its technical and creative adjustments.

The world's first Far Far Away Castle, located in Universal Studios Singapore (©2009 Resorts World Sentosa)

A news release from Resorts World Sentosa said ticket prices will therefore be partially rebated by shopping and dining vouchers valid for use at Universal Studios Singapore.

Mr Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO, Universal Parks & Resorts, said: "We are thrilled to be taking the next step toward a grand opening, and we are excited that, at Universal Studios Singapore, guests from throughout the region will get to experience the excitement and adventure our parks are so well known for around the world."

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Executive Chairman of Resorts World Sentosa, added, "we are excited to be gearing up to take our first guests on the rides, which are naturally the highlight of the park. This is the region's only Universal Studios theme park, and it will be a tourism crown jewel for not just Singapore, but Asia as a whole."

Tickets for the preview phase must be purchased online at, or via phone bookings at +65 6577 8899.

Tickets can also be purchased for future dates only at the ticket booths from 9am to 6pm daily at Universal Studios Singapore.


From; see the source article here.

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An asteroid did it!

It's definitive: An asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs

AFP - Friday, March 5

Artist's rendition released by NASA shows an asteroid belt in orbit around a star. A huge asteroid that smashed into Earth with the force of a billion atomic bombs wiped out the dinosaur, scientists said Thursday, hoping to lay to rest a long-running debate over a mass extinction 65 million years ago.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - – Dinosaurs were wiped out by a huge asteroid that smashed into Earth 65 million years ago with the force of a billion atomic bombs, scientists said Thursday, hoping to lay an age-old debate to rest once and for all.

The definitive verdict came from an international panel of experts who reviewed 20 years' worth of evidence about what caused the Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) extinction that wiped out more than half the species on the planet.

They determined it was a massive asteroid, measuring around 15 kilometers (nine miles) wide, which smashed into what is today Chicxulub in Mexico.

The event marked a pivotal point in history because it cleared the way for mammals to become the dominant species on Earth.

"The asteroid is believed to have hit Earth with a force one billion times more powerful than the atomic bomb at Hiroshima," the researchers said in a report published in the journal Science.

"It would have blasted material at high velocity into the atmosphere, triggering a chain of events that caused a global winter, wiping out much of life on Earth in a matter of days."

The panel of 41 scientists hope their findings will lay to rest once and for all the debate about what caused the KT extinction.

Some scientists have argued that dinosaurs and species including bird-like pterosaurs and large sea reptiles were wiped out by a series of volcanic eruptions in what is now India that lasted some 1.5 million years.

The eruptions spewed enough basalt lava across the Deccan Traps in west-central India to fill the Black Sea twice and were thought to have caused a cooling of the atmosphere and acid rain on a global scale.

But the evidence gathered for the study published in Science showed that marine and land ecosystems were destroyed rapidly in the KT extinction, leading the scientists to rule out volcanic activity as the culprit, because its effects would have whittled away at dinosaurs and other species over time.

"Despite evidence for relatively active volcanism in the Deccan Traps at the time, marine and land ecosystems showed only minor changes within the 500,000 years before the time of the KT extinction," the scientists said.

"Computer models and observational data suggest that the release of gases such as sulphur into the atmosphere after each volcanic eruption... would have had a short-lived effect on the planet and would not cause enough damage to create a rapid mass extinction of land and marine species."

The Chicxulub asteroid, on the other hand, could very well have made short shrift of dinosaurs, pterosaurs and other species, the scientists said.

The impact of the large asteroid would have "triggered large-scale fires, earthquakes measuring more than 10 on the Richter scale, and continental landslides which created tsunamis," said Joanna Morgan, a lecturer in geophysics at Imperial College, London and co-author of the study.

The asteroid hit Earth 20 times faster than a speeding bullet and exploded into a deadly mix of hot rock and gas which would have "grilled any living creature in the immediate vicinity that couldn't find shelter," said Gareth Collins, a research fellow at Imperial College.

"The final nail in the coffin for the dinosaurs happened when blasted material was ejected at high velocity into the atmosphere," shrouding the planet in darkness and causing a global winter that killed off species that "couldn't adapt to this hellish environment," added Morgan.

Another clue that the KT extinction was caused by a huge asteroid and not volcanic activity was evidence in geological records of "shocked" quartz in rock layers at KT boundary levels around the world.

Quartz is "shocked" when it is hit very quickly by a massive force -- such as a 15-kilometer-wide asteroid traveling 20 times faster than a bullet.

The KT extinction marked the end of the 160-million-year reign of the dinosaurs and allowed mammals, and eventually humans, to become the dominant species on earth.

From Yahoo.SG News; source article is found here.

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Dinosaurs' long-lost relatives: FOUND

Scientists find early dinosaur cousin
AFP - Friday, March 5

A recent image released by Chicago's Field Museum shows an artist's impression of the Asilisaurus kongwe, a close dinosaur relative. Scientists have uncovered the bones of a dinosaur-like creature that roamed Earth at least 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinosaur, according to a study published in Nature.

PARIS (AFP) - – Scientists have uncovered the bones of a dinosaur-like creature that roamed Earth at least 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinosaur, according to a study published Thursday.

Discovered in Tanzania, Asilisaurus kongwe would have been waist-high to a human, ate plants, and lived some 240 million years ago, said the study, published in Nature.

The discovery means that dinosaurs probably appeared much earlier than previously thought, the researchers said.

It also points to a rich variety of fauna during the crucial period before dinosaurs began their 165-million domination of the planet.

"This new evidence suggests they were really only one of several large and distinct groups of animals that exploded in diversity in the Triassic, including silesaurs, pterosaurs, and several groups of crocodilian relatives," said Sterling Nesbitt, a researcher at the University of Texas in Austin.

Pterosaurs were flying reptiles.

The newly-found creature is a silesaur, which Nesbitt described as a "sister" taxon to the one that gave rise to dinosaurs.

Their evolutionary relationship would be roughly analogous to that between humans and chimps, whose genomes overlap by 99 percent, he said.

Silesaurs and dinosaurs lived side-by-side throughout much of the Triassic Period, between 250 and 200 million years ago.

Fossil bones from at least 14 Asilisaurus specimens were recovered from a site in southern Tanzania. Scientists were able to reconstruct a nearly complete skeleton, with only small portions of the head and hand missing.

The animal stood half-a-meter to a meter (1.5 to 2.0 feet) tall at the hips, and were one-to-three meters (three-to-five feet) long.

They weighed between 10 and 30 kilogrammes (22 and 66 pounds), and walked on all four legs.

The shape of the teeth and a beak-like lower jaw suggest that the animals could eat meat or plants.

Scientists speculated that the animals were originally carnivores but evolved into omnivores to enhance their chances of survival.

While they did not persist as long as dinosaurs, silesaurs had a good run, lasting some 45 million years.

The first specimen from the silesaur group was discovered only in 2003, but since then eight other specimens have been dug up from Triassic rock around the globe.

"This goes to show that there are whole groups of animals out there that we've never even found evidence of that were very abundant during the Triassic," Nesbitt said.

The names Asilisaurus kongwe comes from "asili," which means "founder" in Swahili, "sauros, the Greek for "lizard", and "kongwe," Swahili for "ancient."

From Yahoo.SG News; source article is found here.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chile quake may have moved Earth's axis

Chile quake moved Earth's axis, shortened days: scientist
AFP - Wednesday, March 3

A gap in a road caused by Saturday's earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in Pulluhue, 320 km south of Santiago. The powerful earthquake that shook Chile on Saturday probably shifted the Earth's axis and made days slightly shorter, a NASA scientist said.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - – The powerful earthquake that shook Chile on Saturday probably shifted the Earth's axis and made days slightly shorter, a NASA scientist said.

Richard Gross, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, calculated that the planet's axis would have shifted by eight centimeters (three inches) during the 8.8 magnitude quake, NASA said in a statement.

Earth days are 24 hours long because that's the amount of time it takes the planet to make one full rotation on its axis, so shifting the axis would affect rotation.

If, indeed, the planet's axis did shift by eight centimeters during the Chilean quake, days would have shortened by 1.26 microseconds, Gross calculated.

A microsecond is one-millionth of a second, so no need to adjust watches just yet.

The Chilean quake shifted the Earth's axis by even more than the 9.1-magnitude temblor off Indonesia that set off the deadly tsunami in Asia in 2004, Gross worked out.

That's partly because the faultline responsible for the earthquake in Chile "dips into Earth at a slightly steeper angle than does the fault responsible for the 2004 Sumatran earthquake" and is more effective at moving Earth's mass vertically and shifting the planet's axis.

The 2004 quake in Asia caused the Earth to move by around seven centimeters and chopped an estimated 6.8 microseconds off the length of a day, NASA said.

From Yahoo.SG News; original article is found here

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