Animal Communication

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufailA discipline within the field of animal behavior that focuses upon the reception and use of signals. Animal communication could well include all of animal behavior, since a liberal definition of the term signal could include all stimuli perceived by an animal. However, most research in animal communication deals only with those cases in which a signal, defined as a structured stimulus generated by one member of a species, is subsequently used by and influences the behavior of another member of the same species in a predictable way (intraspecific communication). In this context, communication occurs in virtually all animal species.

The field of animal communication includes an analysis of the physical characteristics of those signals believed to be responsible in any given case of information transfer. A large part of this interest is due to technological improvements in signal detection, coupled with analysis of the signals obtained with such devices.

Information transmission between two individuals can pass in four channels: acoustic, visual, chemical, and electrical. An individual animal may require information from two or more channels simultaneously before responding appropriately to reception of a signal. Furthermore, a stimulus may evoke a response under one circumstance but be ignored in a different context.

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The Scourge of Piracy

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

cdsBy definition, the term piracy means, “the unauthorized use or appropriation of patented or copyrighted material and ideas.” In America, piracy laws carry stiff fines and penalties for the person infringing on another’s copyright. Who could forget the story of Minnesota mother Jamie Thomas-Rasset, who was successfully sued by the Recording Industry Association of America and ordered to pay $1.9 million for illegally downloading 24 songs from the Internet? But, while artists and corporations are protected by copyright laws in America, all bets are off when the brand or label is promulgated abroad. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East.

Want to see the new kid’s movie “Rio”? Or listen to Katy Perry’s latest single? If you’re living anywhere in the Middle East then chances are you can get your hands on just about any pirated movie or song, within a few days of its official release in America or Europe. And it will cost a whole lot less than getting the real thing as it trickles out from suppliers. Most pirated CD’s cost around $1.50 a piece or less. The downside is that not all are in the most pristine viewing or even listening condition. However, given the low cost, most shoppers don’t mind a bit of degraded format so long as they get their fill of the latest Hollywood flick or singing sensation.

And it’s not only pirated CD’s that are all the rage in the Middle East, giving customers a cheap means of entertainment and the “pirates” pockets full of cold hard cash. Everything from designer handbags to knockoff fashions are blatantly hawked in small shops and even large department stores. Some of the most popular labels to be pirated include Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and Chanel. What is most interesting is that a quick inspection of the majority of the goods reveals that they were produced in China.

China has long since been deemed the worst global piracy offender, providing cheap knockoffs of copyrighted goods at a mere fraction of the original products retail value.  According to a recent study, China causes around $2 billion in losses as a direct result of its pirating activities. And China is the biggest supplier of commercial goods to the Middle East region as a whole.

Most Mideast countries pay lip service to the pirating epidemic within the region and have anti-piracy laws on the books, however enforcing copyright laws is another matter. It just is not something that is enforced. However, one rich Gulf nation is finally taking copyright violations seriously. The municipality of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, launched an initiative at the beginning of this year to crackdown on vendors selling pirated goods. As of this month, the municipality has seized more than 21,000 pirated CD’s and has issued fines to 250 retailers for selling pirated goods.

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Rocks

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

ibn tufail 12-28-09

To expand somewhat on the definition of rock, the term may be said to describe an aggregate of minerals or organic material, which may or may not appear in consolidated form. Consolidation, which we will explore further within the context of sedimentary rock, is a process whereby materials become compacted, or experience an increase in density. It is likely that the image that comes to mind when the word rock is mentioned is that of a consolidated one, but it is important to remember that the term also can apply to loose particles.

The role of organic material in forming rocks also belongs primarily within the context of sedimentary, as opposed to igneous or meta-morphic, rocks. There are, indeed, a handful of rocks that include organic material, an example being coal, but the vast majority are purely inorganic in origin. The inorganic materials that make up rocks are minerals, discussed in the next section. Rocks and minerals of economic value are called ores, which are examined in greater depth elsewhere, within the context of Economic Geology.

The definition of a mineral includes four components: it must appear in nature and therefore not be artificial, it must be inorganic in origin, it must have a definite chemical composition, and it must have a crystalline internal structure. The first of these stipulations clearly indicates that there is no such thing as a man-made mineral; as for the other three parts of the definition, they deserve a bit of clarification.

At one time, the term organic, even within the realm of chemistry, referred to all living or formerly living things, their parts, and substances that come from them. Today, however, chemists use the word to describe any compound that contains carbon and hydrogen, thus excluding carbonates (which are a type of mineral) and oxides such as carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide.

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