Twenty years ago!

A tribute to that terrible event.

This is an hour-long video from YouTube.

It is about the role that dogs played.

This documentary reveals the unknown true stories of the working rescue dogs who saved lives at Ground Zero during the September 11, 2001 crisis and aftermath. Blind office worker Michael Hingson had to trust his seeing-eye dog Roselle on a treacherous descent of 78 flights of stairs to escape only moments before the towers collapsed. Lt. David Lim was called to duty with his dog Sirius. Genelle Guzman-McMillan was found by recovery dogs after being pinned under the rubble for 27 hours.

Once again, dogs come to the rescue of us humans, both physically and psychologically!

A beautiful photograph

Of a hummingbird!

Thursday was a chaotic day for me and I only got to my desk at 3pm. Then I found that I didn’t have any posts to share about dogs.

I was mulling what to do and then came across this article on Treehugger and wanted to share it with you.

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Hummingbirds Are Able to Smell Danger

Vultures aren’t the only birds who recognize odors, study finds.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo September 9, 2021

Mary Jo DiLonardo
Tongho58 / Getty Images

Glittery and graceful, hummingbirds hover and flit in midair as they gather nectar. But it’s not just their athleticism that helps them source food. 

New research finds that these tiny birds have a great sense of smell that helps them detect potential danger when they are hunting for nectar.

“In the last 10-15 years, researchers have just now begun to realize the importance of smell in birds in general. For a very long time, it has been known that some birds, such as vultures, have a keen sense of smell and use it to find food,” study co-author Erin Wilson Rankin, an associate entomology professor at the University of California Riverside, tells Treehugger.

“However, the role of olfaction in most birds has only been recently recognized. That may be in part because many birds do not appear to use odor to help them locate food.”

In earlier studies, researchers were unable to show that hummingbirds preferred the smell of flowers that contained nectar. Also, flowers that have been pollinated by birds don’t have strong aromas, like those that have been pollinated by insects. That’s why scientists didn’t believe that birds had the ability to smell odors.

But with this new study, researchers believe otherwise.

For their experiment, Rankin and her colleagues observed more than 100 hummingbirds in the wild and in aviaries. The birds were given the choice between feeders that contained just sugar water, or sugar water with the addition of one of several chemicals with a scent that meant there was an insect present. The feeders otherwise looked exactly the same.

The scents included one deposited on flowers by European honeybees, a chemical produced by Argentine ants, and formic acid, which is released defensively by some formica ants and can injure birds and mammals.

“If a bird has any exposed skin on their legs, formic acid can hurt, and if they get it in their eyes, it isn’t pleasant,” Rankin said in a statement. “It’s also extremely volatile.”

In the experiments, the hummingbirds avoided the feeders with the sugar water that contained the ant-derived chemicals. They didn’t react to the sugar water with the honeybee scent, even though it’s been known to keep other bees from visiting flowers.

To make sure the bees weren’t avoiding the feeders due to a fear of a new smell, the researchers performed an extra test with sugar water and ethyl butyrate, which is a common additive in human food.

“It smells like Juicy Fruit gum, which is not a smell known in nature,” Rankin said. “I did not enjoy it. The birds did not care about it though and didn’t go out of their way to avoid it.”

The results were published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Avoiding Danger 

For hummingbirds, recognizing smells isn’t just about finding a meal. They use their sense of smell much differently than vultures. These birds use the massive olfactory bulb in their brain like an “airborne bloodhound” to detect decaying carcasses.

Instead, hummingbirds use their excellent vision to locate flowers from which they collect nectar.

“Flowers, while specific species may be patchy in distribution, are much more common and numerous than the animal carcasses that vultures rely on. Thus, it is not surprising that vultures use their sense of smell to find carcasses which they then scavenge,” Rankin explains.

Hummingbirds use their ability to smell in a different way.

“Rather than using odors to find flowers, they will avoid flowers or feeders that have specific insect odors on them, such as formic acid or an Argentine ant aggregation pheromone. A hummingbird can use the chemical cues associated with ants to help them determine if the hummingbird should feed from there, or avoid it because it’s already occupied by ants, which can drink the nectar first or potentially harm them,” Rankin says.

“Ants are also very hard for hummingbirds to see until they are up close, so being able to smell them even when they are hidden deep in a flower could be advantageous. By avoiding defensive chemicals, hummingbirds can avoid interactions with ants and focus on feeding at safer food resources.”

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As long as I shall live I will never stop being amazed at what science discovers and then reports. And the photograph is gorgeous!

At last some hope!

Bill McKibben steps forward.

I heard yesterday from Erik Hoffner who is responsible for the Mongabay website that Bill McKibben is stepping up to the mark in wanting to take action regarding climate change.

I very quickly signed up and received the following email:

Dear Friend,

Many thanks for signing up to be a part—and we hope a big part—of Third Act.

My name is Bill McKibben, and I’m one of the volunteers helping to launch this effort for Americans 60 and older who want to build a fairer and more sustainable nation and planet.

We’re very much in the early days of this, and we need your help—especially if you’re good at the behind-the-scenes tasks like administration, development, and project management. If you’ve got some time to donate right now, write to us at info@thirdact.org.

And we will be back in touch as autumn rolls on, with some early campaigns focused on climate action and on ending voter suppression. As you can tell, we’re making this up as we go along. So it should be interesting, and also a little bumpy!

If you can assemble a sizable group of people, I’ll do my best to join you for a virtual talk to explain more about this idea. (And when the pandemic ends, we’ll try to do it in person!).

And if you can donate some small sum of money to help with the launch, here’s the place.

Thank you. This is our time to make some powerful change—we’ve got the skills, the resources, and the desire. So let’s try.

Thanks, Bill McKibben for Third Act

The website is here.

WELCOME TO YOUR THIRD ACT

We’re over 60—the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. We have skills, we have resources, we have time—and many of us have kids and grandkids. We also have a history. In our early years we saw remarkable shifts in politics and society; now, in our latter years, we want to see those changes made real and lasting.

We were there for the first Earth Day, and we’ve been glad to see cleaner air and water—but now we know that the climate crisis presents an unparalleled threat. The heat is on and we must act quickly to turn it down.

We watched or participated in the civil rights movement—and now we know that its gains were not enough, and that gaps in wealth have only widened in our lifetimes. We’ve got to repair divisions instead of making them worse.
We saw democracy expand—and now we’re seeing it contract, as voter suppression and gerrymandering threaten the core of the American experiment. We know that real change can only come if we all get to participate.

You are the key to this work. Maybe you’ve asked yourself: how can I give back on a scale that matters? The answer is, by working with others to build movements strong enough to matter. That’s why we hope you’ll join us.

Clearly I have signed up and I hope an enormous number of other people will do as well.

Because the time left is not very long and even me at the age of 76 fear for the near future if nothing is done urgently.

Please, please consider joining Third Act.

As the headline says: THIRD ACT — EXPERIENCED PEOPLE WORKING FOR A FAIR AND STABLE PLANET.

A short but interesting video

CBS present an item about dogs.

I was a bit tight on time yesterday and just looked for a YouTube video that might please.

Anyway, I quickly came across this from CBS. It goes back 7 years but so what, it is still very pertinent today.

People will tell you it’s not what you say to a dog that counts, it’s how you say it. But now researchers say dogs respond to much more than your tone of voice. They say brain scans confirm that canines can understand exactly what you’re saying. Michelle Miller reports.

The way dogs think

They are incredibly intuitive but not in such a broad way as us humans.

On Friday morning Oliver got lifted up onto the bed. It’s a daily routine and one that Jeannie and I love.

Oliver – He has magnificent eyes.

On this particular early morning I decided to switch the lamp off next to me and snuggle under the covers for a bit more shuteye. At the moment the light went out Oliver moved from his regular position somewhere over my knees to the bottom of the bed in between me and Jean. He has never done that before.

Of all our dogs Oliver is the one that seems to sense what is happening. That is not to say that the other dogs are dumb, far from it, but that Oliver is extra intuitive.

So that’s why this from Science magazine is being republished today. Because it is right on the money, so to speak.

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Dogs Know When You’re Lying to Them

By the BEC Crew, 25th February, 2015

We all know that dogs can sense our emotions, whether happy, sad or angry, but now researchers have found that they can also tell when you’re lying, and will stop following the cues of someone they deem untrustworthy.

Researchers led by Akiko Takaoka from Kyoto University in Japan figured this out by using the old ‘point and fetch’ trick – a human points at the location of something, like a ball, a stick, or some food, and the dog runs off to find it. They wanted to figure out if dogs were just blindly following these cues, or if they were adjusting their behaviour based on how reliable they perceived the person giving the cues to be. And if they didn’t perceive this person as being reliable, how quickly would they learn to mistrust and disobey the humans who pointed in the wrong direction?

Working with 34 dogs, the team went through three rounds of pointing. The first round involved truthfully pointing out to the dogs where their treats and toys were hidden in a container. In the second round, after showing the dogs what’s in the container, they pointed out the location again, but this time, it was a trick – the container was empty. In the third round, the team pointed to the location of the box, which was filled with treats again.

They found that the dogs were following the age-old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” because by round three, many of them were done believing the actions of the pointing volunteers.

A second experiment was performed in exactly the same way as the first one, except the person was replaced by an entirely new one. The dogs happily started the process all over again, and were fully open to trusting their new ‘friend’. “That suggests, says Takaoka, that the dogs could use their experience of the experimenter to assess whether they were a reliable guide,” Melissa Hogenboom writes for BBC News. “After these rounds, a new experimenter replicated the first round. Once again, the dogs followed this new person with interest.”

What’s going on here, the researchers report in the journal Animal Cognition, is that the dogs were ‘devaluing’ the reliability of the human when they experienced their lies. “Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought,” Takaoka told Hogenboom. “This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.” 

The experiment reaffirms what we know about the nature of dogs – they love routine, but they also love new things. In round one, they learnt how the activity goes: the human points, I sniff out something great. But in round two, the rules changed and the dogs became stressed out. But when round three came along, the human who broke the rules was replaced by a different human, and the dogs were happy to trust this one because of their love of trying new things.

“Dogs are very sensitive to human behaviour but they have fewer preconceptions,” Bradshaw told the BBC. “They live in the present, they don’t reflect back on the past in an abstract way, or plan for the future.” And they certainly don’t approach a situation by “thinking deeply about what that entails”, he said. 

Something to think about when you consider inflicting the ‘fake tennis ball’ game on your dog. It might work a few times for hilarious effect, because your dog trusts you way more than the dogs in the experiment trusted the strangers they just met, but how long will it last?

It also explains why dogs are so unsure about magicians:

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So to all the dogs in the world I say this: “Keep on trusting us humans!” And to the millions of dog owners in the world, I say this: “Never lie, especially to a dog!”

Larry the guide dog!

Serendipity at work!

Yesterday morning while sitting up in bed I was browsing the internet on my iPad. I looked up TED Talks and fancied watching the story of Mark Pollock and Simone George. It turned out to be 19 minutes of incredible viewing and it is reproduced below as a YouTube video.

Towards the end Mark refers to his guide dog Larry. More of that later.

First watch the video.

It is a most amazing talk.

Next I wanted to research some more.

First I found Mark’s website that is here.

Then I came across a comprehensive entry on WikiPedia. From which the following is taken:

Pollock enrolled in a course to help come to terms with his disability. He left for Dublin with his guide dog Larry and began putting himself forward for job interviews. Prospective employers were uncertain as to how to approach him. Eventually the father of one of his college friends assigned him to organising corporate entertainment. He returned to rowing and won bronze and silver medals for Northern Ireland in the 2002 Commonwealth Rowing Championships. He engaged in other athletic pursuits, including running six marathons in seven days with a sighted partner across the Gobi Desert, China in 2003 when he raised tens of thousands of euro for the charity Sightsavers International. On 10 April 2004, he competed in the North Pole Marathon on the sixth anniversary of his blindness.

Then I discovered that Larry had died: “My great mate Larry The Guide Dog died on Sunday night. An amazing Guide Dog and amazing friend.”.

He died on the 2nd May, 2010 just a couple of months before Mark’s terrible accident.

Finally a photograph of Mark and Larry!

Who do you rely on most? When I was just blind, it was my guide dog Larry who empowered me to live life independently.”

The words of Mark Pollock.

What an inspiration he must be to so many!

The big question!

That I wonder if it will ever be answered?

For the first day of September I wanted to change the topic to an item that was recently published by The Conversation.

Space has always been fascinating to me. One of my enduring memories was standing on the roof of my Land Rover in 1969 during a long journey around the interior of Australia. We were in the Nullabor desert and it was flat, and lonely, for miles and miles. This particular night I clambered up onto the roof and just took in the night sky. There was not a single spot of human-caused light pollution and the night sky was beautiful beyond words.

Later on when I was sailing I used to regard the North Star as my friend.

Anyway, here’s a little question for this day.

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Does outer space end – or go on forever?

It can stretch your mind to ponder what’s really out there. Stijn Dijkstra/EyeEm via Getty Images

Jack Singal, University of Richmond


What is beyond outer space? – Siah, age 11, Fremont, California


Right above you is the sky – or as scientists would call it, the atmosphere. It extends about 20 miles (32 kilometers) above the Earth. Floating around the atmosphere is a mixture of molecules – tiny bits of air so small you take in billions of them every time you breathe.

Above the atmosphere is space. It’s called that because it has far fewer molecules, with lots of empty space between them.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to outer space – and then keep going? What would you find? Scientists like me are able to explain a lot of what you’d see. But there are some things we don’t know yet, like whether space just goes on forever.

Planets, stars and galaxies

At the beginning of your trip through space, you might recognize some of the sights. The Earth is part of a group of planets that all orbit the Sun – with some orbiting asteroids and comets mixed in, too.

A diagram of the solar system, showing the sun and its orbiting planets.
A familiar neighborhood. Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

You might know that the Sun is actually just an average star, and looks bigger and brighter than the other stars only because it is closer. To get to the next nearest star, you would have to travel through trillions of miles of space. If you could ride on the fastest space probe NASA has ever made, it would still take you thousands of years to get there.

If stars are like houses, then galaxies are like cities full of houses. Scientists estimate there are 100 billion stars in Earth’s galaxy. If you could zoom out, way beyond Earth’s galaxy, those 100 billion stars would blend together – the way lights of city buildings do when viewed from an airplane.

Recently astronomers have learned that many or even most stars have their own orbiting planets. Some are even like Earth, so it’s possible they might be home to other beings also wondering what’s out there.

An image showing detail of one galaxy, but visually implying there are many more.
A galaxy among many other galaxies. Michael Miller/Stocktrek Images via Getty Images

You would have to travel through millions of trillions more miles of space just to reach another galaxy. Most of that space is almost completely empty, with only some stray molecules and tiny mysterious invisible particles scientists call “dark matter.”

Using big telescopes, astronomers see millions of galaxies out there – and they just keep going, in every direction.

If you could watch for long enough, over millions of years, it would look like new space is gradually being added between all the galaxies. You can visualize this by imagining tiny dots on a deflated balloon and then thinking about blowing it up. The dots would keep moving farther apart, just like the galaxies are.

Is there an end?

If you could keep going out, as far as you wanted, would you just keep passing by galaxies forever? Are there an infinite number of galaxies in every direction? Or does the whole thing eventually end? And if it does end, what does it end with?

These are questions scientists don’t have definite answers to yet. Many think it’s likely you would just keep passing galaxies in every direction, forever. In that case, the universe would be infinite, with no end.

Some scientists think it’s possible the universe might eventually wrap back around on itself – so if you could just keep going out, you would someday come back around to where you started, from the other direction.

One way to think about this is to picture a globe, and imagine that you are a creature that can move only on the surface. If you start walking any direction, east for example, and just keep going, eventually you would come back to where you began. If this were the case for the universe, it would mean it is not infinitely big – although it would still be bigger than you can imagine.

In either case, you could never get to the end of the universe or space. Scientists now consider it unlikely the universe has an end – a region where the galaxies stop or where there would be a barrier of some kind marking the end of space.

But nobody knows for sure. How to answer this question will need to be figured out by a future scientist.

Jack Singal, Associate Professor of Physics, University of Richmond

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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“But nobody knows for sure. How to answer this question will need to be figured out by a future scientist.”

I wonder if that future scientist will ever be able to answer the question.

Then there’s the thought that the universe may be infinite. That is an astounding idea, that it goes on forever.

There’s only one way to close this post. With this photograph from Unsplash.

A big dog attitude in a small dog’s frame!

Zola wants to play with Rocky!

This is a delightful story from The Dodo and goes to demonstrate how this little dog does everything in its power to play with a neighbouring dog!

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Woman Catches Her Little Dog Having Secret Meetings With The Neighbor

It happens every night ❤️️

By Lily Feinn, Published on the 23rd July, 2021

Zola’s always known she was a big dog in a small dog’s body. The 2-year-old corgi refuses to let her short legs hold her back from getting what she wants.

And what Zola really wants is to play with her neighbor, Rocky.

Haley Smith

About three weeks ago, Haley Smith noticed that whenever Zola went out in the yard, she’d make a beeline for the fence.

“She started really going crazy and barking at the fence, and we weren’t sure why,” Smith told The Dodo. “She would sit by the door and we would let her out, and she would sprint to the fence and start jumping. We thought it was odd.”

Haley Smith

Smith didn’t understand what was so attractive about the cinder block barrier until she caught a glimpse of a sweet black and white spotted face looking over. But no matter how high Zola jumped, she couldn’t reach the dog on the other side.

“We peeked outside and lo and behold, she was just trying to talk to the big paws and head that were peering over at her,” Smith said. “She really wants to get to Rocky. She will take a running leap at the fence and try to jump to his height.”

Haley Smith

Rocky and Zola’s meetings have since become a nightly affair. The two have yet to meet without the barrier, but that just makes the pups even more interested in each other.

“Rocky is very gentle,” Smith said. “At first he barked back at her. Now, he jumps up and just watches her quietly. He seems very curious about her.”

But Zola doesn’t seem to like that their meetings are a little one-sided. “One theory I have is that she’s a little jealous that Rocky can see into her yard but she can’t see into his,” Smith said. “She probably wants to know how to get to him so they can sniff and play.”

Zola loves other dogs and always pulls to sniff each one she sees on her walks. The fact that she hasn’t been able to reach Rocky is the ultimate challenge, and she’s constantly trying to figure out how to get to his level.

Haley Smith

Smith has no doubt that Zola will soon reach him, and the two will finally be together.

“Zola is too smart for her own good,” Smith said. “She’s pretty sure she will figure out a way to get to the top of the fence.”

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In a way dogs are so human but then again dogs are a very different species. We know from years of personal experience that dogs have pure unconditional love for their doggy friends and for us humans. That is what makes them so special!