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Scribbles on the margins of science.

On the Record

“Iceland does not subscribe to the principle of survival of the cutest.”

Stefan Asmundsson, Iceland's representative to the International Whaling Commission, defends the nation's position on “sustainable utilization” of whales.

Showbiz news

Knight guider


It's now possible to get a Global Positioning System in-car map reader that talks to the driver in the voice of KITT, the intelligent car from the classic 1980s TV show Knight Rider. Sadly, this won't enable a car to drive itself — even if a Hoff-alike shouts: “I need ya buddy.”

Number Crunch

122,500 is the number of species identified by the Census of Marine Life so far.

56,400 is the number of 'double identities' that have been eliminated in the process, ensuring that each species is catalogued only once.

56 is the record number of aliases for a single species, accrued by the breadcrumb sponge (Halichondria panicea) since 1766.

230,000 is the number of marine species thought to be known to science. It is hoped that they will all be on the census by 2010.

Zoo news

Fish out of water

Lucky pet goldfish are getting a penthouse view in their new 'supmarine'. The inverted submarine, an upside-down, water-filled glass bowl was invented by a Dutchman for his son. It sits above the water level, so fish can swim up into it and look out.

Sources: Reuters, PC Magazine, Census of Marine Life, Wired

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Sidelines. Nature 454, 12 (2008).

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