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  Researchers Map The Sexual Network Of An Entire High SchoolFebruary 24, 2007 23:25 For the first time, sociologists have mapped the romantic and sexual relationships of an entire high school over 18 months, providing evidence that these adolescent networks may be structured differently than researchers previously thought.

The results showed that, unlike many adult networks, there was no core group of very sexually active people at the high school. There were not many students who had many partners and who provided links to the rest of the community.

Instead, the romantic and sexual network at the school created long chains of connections that spread out through the community, with few places where students directly shared the same partners with each other. But they were indirectly linked, partner to partner to partner. One component of the network linked 288 students – more than half of those who were romantically active at the school – in one long chain.

 
  Blitz On Illegal Fishing Will Fill Top End Australian JailsFebruary 22, 2007 18:13 ILLEGAL fishermen caught plundering northern waters could make up almost a third of the Northern Territory's prison population within two years, placing "extreme pressure" on its courts and jails, Territory officials have warned.
A crackdown on poaching has so overwhelmed the Top End's judicial system that the Northern Territory Government has requested financial support from the commonwealth.
A spokesman for federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison yesterday said further talks about the capacity of the Territory's judicial system to process illegal foreign fishermen were planned for the first half of the year.

Commonwealth projections given to the Northern Territory Government estimate that 1500 illegal fishing prosecutions annually will come before Top End courts in the next two years. In 2005-06, there were 461 prosecutions.

Illegal foreign fishermen are held in detention in Darwin before appearing in court, where, if found guilty, they face fines or a custodial sentence in a Northern Territory jail.

Territory Attorney-General Syd Stirling said that by 2009, foreign poachers could account for up to 30 per cent of the Territory's prison population. Currently, there are 11 fishermen sentenced in prisons, with one behind bars on remand.
  Search For Alien Life Closer With Technique To Analyze PlanetsFebruary 21, 2007 16:35 NASA scientists were able to analyze the makeup of distant planets in other solar systems using a technique that could one day be used to find life on other planets, astronomers said Wednesday.

Teams of scientists used the space-based Spitzer infrared telescope to measure the spectra, or light emissions, of two giant, gaseous planets, trillions of kilometres away from Earth. By breaking the light given off by the planets into different wavelengths, the scientists could analyze their chemical composition.

The two planets - known as HD 189733b, 63 light years away in the constellation Vulpecula, and HD 209458b, 154 light years away in the constellation Pegasus - are so-called hot-Jupiters, gaseous planets like Jupiter, but located much closer to their suns.

At a teleconference, scientists involved in the project said that more powerful telescopes could likely use the same technique to examine smaller, rocky planets, which could be more Earth-like.

Mark Swain, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that the results were a "very important stepping stone" for drawing conclusions about other types of planets that could be hospitable for life.
  Asteroid On Collision Path With Earth in 2036February 20, 2007 16:26 The United Nations will shortly be asked to take on a new and unfamiliar mission - to save the Earth, not from drought, war or disease, but from the cataclysm that could occur following a direct hit by an asteroid.

A group of former astronauts and cosmonauts is warning that at least one asteroid already identified in outer space is on a path that could indeed see it colliding with our planet in 2036.

They say work should begin now on considering a strategy to protect humankind from this and other asteroids.

Specifically, members of the Association of Space Explorers are planning a series of meetings over the next two years, to be attended by diplomats, astronomers, astronauts and engineers, to draft an international treaty on address the threat.

It will be presented to the UN for adoption in 2009.

 
  In Rich Countries Children’s Basic Needs Have Been Generally Met But...February 14, 2007 09:13 The UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre today releases the Report Card 7 which focuses on the well-being of children and young people in the world’s advanced economies and provides the first comprehensive assessment.

The six dimensions taken to measure the well- being of children – material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviours and risks, and young people’s own subjective sense of well-being – offer a picture of the lives of children, and no single dimension can stand as a reliable proxy for child well-being as a whole.

The landmark report shows that among all of the 21 OECD countries there are improvements to be made and that no single OECD country leads in all six of the areas.

“All countries have weaknesses to be addressed” says Innocenti Director Marta Santos Pais, “No single dimension of well-being stands as a reliable proxy for child well-being as a whole and several OECD countries find themselves with widely differing rankings for different dimensions of children’s lives.”
  Ancient Boy's Skeleton Sparks Evolution DebateFebruary 07, 2007 09:32 Deep in the dusty, unlit corridors of Kenya's national museum, locked away in a plain-looking cabinet, is one of mankind's oldest relics: Turkana Boy, as he is known, the most complete skeleton of a prehistoric human ever found.

But his first public display later this year is at the heart of a growing storm -- one pitting scientists against Kenya's powerful and popular evangelical Christian movement. The debate over evolution vs. creationism -- once largely confined to the United States -- has arrived in a country known as the cradle of mankind.

"I did not evolve from Turkana Boy or anything like it," says Bishop Boniface Adoyo, head of Kenya's 35 evangelical denominations, which he claims have 10 million followers. "These sorts of silly views are killing our faith."

He's calling on his flock to boycott the exhibition and has demanded the museum relegate the fossil collection to a back room -- along with some kind of notice saying evolution is not a fact but merely one of a number of theories.

Against him is one of the planet's best-known fossil hunters, Richard Leakey, whose team unearthed the bones at Nariokotome in West Turkana, in the desolate, far northern reaches of Kenya in 1984.

"Whether the bishop likes it or not, Turkana Boy is a distant relation of his," Leakey, who founded the museum's prehistory department, told The Associated Press. "The bishop is descended from the apes and these fossils tell how he evolved."
  Ocean Living: From Hydropolis To TrilobisFebruary 02, 2007 09:56 We've been promised many things in the world of Tomorrowland: jet packs, flying cars, picnics on the moon.

We remember those pledges, ruefully. But with all of our attention on the skies above, we tend to forget about the seas below and another once-popular 21st century prediction: that one day we'll be living on and under the oceans.

The idea isn't so far-fetched. As Earth gets increasingly crowded and polluted, some 225 million square miles of prime real estate representing 71 percent of the planet's surface is largely unused. It's remarkable considering the oceans promise plenty of living space, fresh seafood, entertainment, and desalinized water. Surely, technology can make this happen.

Turns out, it can and it soon will - if not quite the way we first imagined. But before diving into what the near future holds, let's resurface what the distant past once promised.