Stories tagged China

Oct
06
2007

Another race to the moon

Chang'e 1: China lunar probe
Chang'e 1: China lunar probe
United States, India, China, and Japan have each announced high-profile plans to send humans back to the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 landed there in 1972.

United States on moon by 2020

NASA has a 2020 deadline for returning Americans to the moon. China would like to beat that. At a recent meeting, NASA administrator Michael Griffin said,

"I personally believe that China will be back on the moon before we are,''

China's ambitious space program

Luo Ge, Vice Administrator, China National Space Administration, at the 22nd National Space Symposium (NSS) outlined China's agenda in space.

Generally speaking, in the coming five to eight years we will be launching about 100 satellites. Next year, the country's first lunar orbiter/fly mission is to fly. By 2012, China space planners will be landing a rover on the Moon surface. Based on success in the manned mission area, China intends to establish an orbiting space lab by 2015. In 2017, that country's lunar exploration plans call for robotic lunar sample return missions. China will also consider the possibility of manned mission to the Moon. Space.com

Next step, China's moon probe, Chang'e 1

Chang'e 1 will be outfitted with a stereo camera system to chart the lunar surface, an altimeter to measure the distance between the spacecraft and the lunar surface, a gamma/X-ray spectrometer to study the overall composition and radioactive components of the Moon, a microwave radiometer to map the thickness of the lunar regolith, and a system of space environment monitors to collect data on the solar wind and near-lunar region. Click here to read more about Chang'e 1.

Eduardo Arias bothered to read the ingredients on a toothpaste tube, took the day off from work, and trekked all over the city to alert health officials in Panama to an antifreeze ingredient in his toothpaste that sparked off a world wide recall and investigation. This guy gets my "rad citizen scientist" award. Keep askin' questions.

Sep
11
2007

Sticky x-ray: This lower body x-ray shows some of the 26 sewing needles floating around in a Chinese woman's body for the past 29 years. She's having surgey today to remove the first batch of needles, which were believed to be put into her by her grandparents shortly after her birth (Photo from Richland International Hospital)
Sticky x-ray: This lower body x-ray shows some of the 26 sewing needles floating around in a Chinese woman's body for the past 29 years. She's having surgey today to remove the first batch of needles, which were believed to be put into her by her grandparents shortly after her birth (Photo from Richland International Hospital)
You would think this would certainly send you to the doctor a few times, living a quarter of a century with 26 sewing needles poking around inside of your body.

A Chinese woman just found out the source of so many of her medical problems. Today, doctors are doing the first surgery to remove six of those little pokers form her body.

Over her 29 years of life, doctors estimate that the pins have poked into Luo Cuifen’s lungs, liver, bladder and kidneys. And they suspect that they were imbedded into her body just days into her life by grandparents who wanted to harm her, well actually kill her.

“That fact that she’s still alive is a medical miracle,” says Qu Rei, a spokesman for Richland International Hospital in Yunnan Province, China.

The presence of the needles was a mystery to Cuifen’s mother, who wept when informed of her daughter’s condition. As an infant, Luo Cuifen cried a lot, but her mother thought she was a temperamental baby.

How can this all happen and how can someone live so long in such a condition? Read on.

Luo Cuifen’s first medical problems arouse as an infant when she had a wound in her lower back. Her mother was startled to pull a sewing needle out of the wound. But for lack of money or medical insurance, the situation was never checked out by a doctor. At age 3, another needle emerged from her body around her ribs.

It’s taken this long for a hospital to step up and volunteer to check her out and perform the necessary operations for free. After today’s operation, she’ll likely have five for six more surgeries to remove the remaining needles.

Surprisingly, since her childhood she’s had a pretty trauma-free medical history. She’s married and the mother of a six-year-old son. Luo Cuifen’s medical situation came to light three years ago when she had blood in her urine.

Now here’s the real scary part. Doctors and family members believe the woman’s grandparents may have put the needles into their granddaughter. They always wanted a grandson and upon hearing a fortune teller say their granddaughter was cursed, they embedded the needles into the baby.

Because China has a one-child policy, it’s not uncommon for families to practice infanticide on baby girls to give parents another chance to have a baby boy. Boy to girl ratios in China are 119 to 100 compared to 107 to 100 in industrialized countries.

Jul
30
2007

Pooped out?: A new Chinese business venture hopes to convert Panda poop into attractive souvenirs that Summer Olympic visitors will buy next year.
Pooped out?: A new Chinese business venture hopes to convert Panda poop into attractive souvenirs that Summer Olympic visitors will buy next year.
One of my favorite volunteers here at the museum does a lot of activities with artificial scat: that’s science lingo for animal poop.

I guess I’ve been hanging out with him too much, cause this story just jumped off the screen screaming for my attention.

A new company in Sichuan, China, is making odor-free souvenirs for next year’s Summer Olympic games out of Panda poop. You’ll have your choice of everything from dung-y bookmarks to miniature statues of the animals that produced the medium.

"We used to spend at least $770 a month to get rid of the droppings but now they can be lucrative," Jing Shimin, assistant to the base director, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. About 40 pandas are housed at the site and put out nearly a ton of panda poop a year.

A lot of production work goes into the process. All dung is smashed, dried and sterilized at 572 degrees F. The finished products are dyed giving them a variety of colors. The Olympic figurines will show the Pandas posed in a number of athletic positions.

Jul
15
2007

Some dinosaurs are just bigger than others: And it's nothing to be ashamed of.    (Image by red5standingby on Flickr.com)
Some dinosaurs are just bigger than others: And it's nothing to be ashamed of. (Image by red5standingby on Flickr.com)
Do you remember MDR’s post about the people of Henan, China, who had been grinding up dinosaur bones to be used in traditional medicine? I do. It was neat, and he made the cool picture of the stewed skeletons, And do you remember the story Thor covered , about heavy kids becoming stigmatized because of their weight? Of course you do. It’s just down the page.

Well, just this last week, the butterfly of fortune flapped its little wings, adding to a tiny gust of wind, which disturbed a droplet of sweat above the eye of a bull, which charged and scared those two stories so badly that they ran into each other in their panic. The collision was so severe that MDR’s article broke its leg, Thor’s article got a concussion, and a third story, an amalgam article, was spontaneously created.

It seems that some of the bones being soupified in the Henan province (which, interestingly, was not previously thought to have sediment old enough to contain dinosaur fossils) belonged to an undiscovered species of dinosaur, a dinosaur that looks to be the heaviest on record in all of Asia.

There doesn’t seem to be too much information available on the find right now, but paleontologists figure that the dinosaur was a robustly boned sauropod (four legs, herbivore, long neck and tail) that measured at least 59 feet. They also think that it had an unusually large coelom (“the body cavity that contains the digestive tract”), making it a very heavy, big-bellied creature.

Compared to the dinosaurs of Africa and the Americas, many of the dinosaurs of Asia were relatively small, and scientists believe that this creature very probably suffered merciless ridicule from its sleek and agile neighbors. It likely wore dark or vertically striped clothing (although fossil evidence for this is still very sketchy), and often told the other dinosaurs that it was simply big-boned (which was a wholly accurate, if rarely accepted, explanation).

Upon hearing that it had been made into soup, the new dinosaur began rolling over in its grave, which has severely hindered excavation efforts.

A couple of quite similar articles:
ScienceDaily
Xinhua

Jul
13
2007

Brendan Fletcher and Emma Nicholas: At the end of their road.  Courtesy Brendan Fletcher and Emma Nicholas.
Brendan Fletcher and Emma Nicholas: At the end of their road. Courtesy Brendan Fletcher and Emma Nicholas.
With all of this talk about world wonders lately I thought I should post about some fellow museum bloggers who have just completed an amazing feat. Brendan Fletcher and Emma Nicholas, working with the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia just finished their 3000km (1864 mile) walk along the entire length of the Great Wall of China. Blogging the entire way, they were helping to add a unique perspective to the Powerhouse Museum's exhibit on the Great Wall and I should say they were quite successful.

Make sure to check out their Walking the Wall blog, which has some very interesting stories about what they found along the way.

I'd like to see more museums trying out adventurous blogs like this. We've featured some of our staff out in Antarctica, Madagascar, and I even got to bob along on a scientific drilling ship in the Pacific. What sort of web journals would you like to see from science museum folks, out in the world, adventuring along? Dino dig blog? Astronaut blog? Underground science blog (science of spelunking)? Nuclear reactor blog?

Jun
17
2007

Chinese paleontologists have pulled something rad out of the sands of the Gobi desert - a giant birdlike dinosaur.
The Gigantoraptor: Just reemphasizing how weird and cool dinosaurs are.    (Image by "ArthurWeasley")
The Gigantoraptor: Just reemphasizing how weird and cool dinosaurs are. (Image by "ArthurWeasley")

The newly discovered dinosaur belongs to the oviraptosaurs, a subgroup of the theropods (the family of Tyrannosaur rex and velociraptors, among others). The oviraptosaurs were beaked and feathered, and are very closely related to primitive birds (some scientists actually consider them to be flightless birds, and not dinosaurs, but this is debated).

The thing is, as theropds evolved to become more birdlike (like oviraptorsaurs were), they almost always became smaller as well - the largest of the oviraptosaurs were about the size of an emu. The gigantoraptor, as its name would suggest, seems to be the exception to this rule.

Probably still a juvenile - growth patterns on the bone suggest it was only about 11 years old when it died - the gigantoraptor found by the Chinese team was already 25 feet long, and would have weighed around 3000 pounds. It had clawed arms, and disproportionately long and slender legs (larger dinosaurs usually have shorter, stockier legs). Like other oviraptosaurs, it had a toothless beak, and may also have been feathered. Paleontologists are still unsure about what it ate, but it has been suggested that the gigantoraptor may have been an open pursuit predator, and a dangerous one - the size and structure of its limbs could have made it "the fastest dinosaur on two legs."

While the paleontologists who discovered the gigantoraptor are stressing that it does not place any doubt on the link between theropods and modern birds, the find is forcing some scientists to reevaluate the idea that dinosaurs only got smaller as they became more birdlike. "If you saw a mouse as big as a pig you would be very surprised – it is the same when we found the Gigantoraptor," pointed out one of the Chinese paleontologists.

The Gigantoraptor.

Wikipedia on oviraptosaurs.

May
29
2007

Poison found in food and drugs from China.

Melamine: poisoned pets
Melamine: poisoned pets
In recent months, multiple deaths of people and pets have been blamed on Chinese ingredients. At least 51 people in Panama died after taking medicine containing diethylene glycol falsely labeled as glycerin from China. The same poisonous ingredient was found in toothpaste traced back to China. China was also blamed for 14,000 reports of sickened pets due to tainted pet food.

In recent years, for instance, China’s food safety scandals have involved everything from fake baby milk formulas and soy sauce made from human hair to instances where cuttlefish were soaked in calligraphy ink to improve their color and eels were fed contraceptive pills to make them grow long and slim. New York Times

Melamine fools food testers

Melamine, a cheap plastic made from oil, and when added to animal feed, looks like protein in tests.

“It just saves money if you add melamine scrap,” says a manager of an animal feed factory in China.

Melanine in food is illegal in the United States. Sixteen pet deaths linked to melanine led to the recall of 60 million packages of pet food.

China needs to improve food and drug regulations.

China's former top drug regulator was sentenced to death today for taking bribes to approve substandard medicines, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths.

Zheng's acts "greatly undermined ... the efficiency of China's drug monitoring and supervision, endangered public life and health and had a very negative social impact," the court said.

Under a nationwide safety campaign launched Monday, 90 administration inspectors will be sent to 15 provinces over the next two weeks. The government also announced plans for its first recall system for unsafe products. Hopefully China will learn that regulating food and drug safety is worth while.

Apr
10
2007

Scientists have uncovered the remains of an early modern human in China. The 40,000-year-old skeleton is important, because there are very few human fossils of that age in this part of the world.

Most scientists believe that modern humans evolved in Africa and spread across the globe about 70,000 years ago. They replaced older forms of humans, such as Neanderthals.

Scientists disagree over whether modern humans interbred with the earlier populations. The new fossil, while clearly of a modern human, does contain some features of other types, thus lending weight to the theory that the various populations did mix.

Jan
23
2007

Bi-plane flyer: New research on Microraptor gui suggests that the flying reptile from 125 million years ago may have utilitized the same aerodynamics as a biplane.
Bi-plane flyer: New research on Microraptor gui suggests that the flying reptile from 125 million years ago may have utilitized the same aerodynamics as a biplane.
The first flying reptiles may have had something in common with the first airplanes: a two-winged format to help get their bodies off the ground.

A new study of one of the earliest flying reptiles – Microraptor gui – shows that it had upper and lower sets of wings, just like the first biplanes of aviation. Microraptor guis were flying around the skies about 125 million years ago.

Fossil remains of the species have been found in China. The study has found that microraptor gui had aerodynamic feathers on both its wings and legs. Like biplanes, that arrangement of feathers could give the flying reptile a better ability to glide. Extending its legs while in flight, the microraptor gui would have two sets of wings that were offset and staggered from each other, just like a biplane.

Researchers have also commented that such an odd arrangement of feathers would have been very inefficient for flight, but could have been the first stages of the evolutionary process of developing flying reptiles in the dinosaur age.

The next step in the research process will be to do wind tunnel testing on models of Microraptor gui to see how its aerodynamics check out.