News Article | February 15, 2017
In the 15th year of the awards, the world’s most outstanding properties were identified in different categories which are determined based on the reviews and opinions of TripAdvisor travelers' around the globe. Less than one percent of establishments featured on TripAdvisor are Travelers’ Choice Award Winners. These awards recognize remarkable service, top quality and great value. The three (3) ViVA BELiZE Resort Winners are The Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge Belmopan, Jaguar Reef Lodge & Spa Hopkins and Almond Beach Resort & Spa Hopkins. Today, they are all honoured to add these nine (9) Awards to the ViVA BELiZE Hotel Group list of achievements. The Properties were recognized in the following categories: Award Winner 2017 Top 20 Hotels in the WORLD for Best Service – (Ranked 18th) “These prestigious recognitions were made possible thanks to the incredible powerful reviews of all our amazing guests,” said Ms. Lizbeth Casasola Marketing Director of ViVA BELiZE Hotel Group. “We are excited and honoured by these awards, receiving them for consecutive years in our ViVA BELiZE history, is indeed an appreciation attained by the relentless efforts of our team who are essential in bringing these reputable accolades to our Belize Resorts.” “This is a proud moment for all of us at ViVA BELiZE and I hope everyone will hold their head high knowing that they are contributing to something very special at all ViVA BELiZE Hotels. It was accomplished by our team efforts and the highest levels of service. Excellence cannot be achieved by a few people at the top, it takes every single employee having a mind-set of caring for our guests, determination and consistency of dedicated service. This takes a daily effort by everyone...so, thanks to all the staff from sales and marketing, on site teams- from drivers to concierge, bartenders, the wait staff, tour guides, cooks, housekeeping, grounds, warehouse, maintenance and our partners providing services to us. Your hard work and efforts are greatly appreciated. But most of all, thank you to our amazing and loyal ViVA BELiZE guests that took the time to share their memories with other travelers on Tripadvisor– Thank you all and we hope to see you again soon in beautiful Belize! ViVA BELiZE!” About ViVA BELiZE ViVA BELiZE- is the leading award winning Hotel Group & Adventure Company in Belize for the past 20 years. It is owned & managed by Canadian and Swiss Hospitality Pioneers committed to providing an exceptional vacation experience along with a myriad of adventure opportunities in Belize’s most pristine and spectacular surroundings. With Five Full-Service Resorts, two premier jungle properties and three superb beach resorts that can be booked separately or combined into one exciting breath-taking Belize Beach & Jungle Vacation. http://www.vivabelize.com SLEEPING GIANT LODGE- is a full-service Jungle lodge - official base camp for National Geographic Expeditions in Belize with 24 guest rooms and surrounded by over a hundred thousand acres of unspoiled wilderness. This premier jungle lodge features the TripAdvisor number one restaurant in Belmopan. It is now a 22-time Traveler’s Choice Award Winner, with 10 International and 12 National Travelers’ choice Awards since 2014/2015/2016/2017, and ranking number One in Belize for Jungle Lodge. JAGUAR REEF LODGE & SPA- is a full-service beachfront resort with sunny skies and panoramic views of the ocean that is a Diver’s Paradise. It is located on the longest and finest beach in Belize with a PADI 5 Star Dive Center, full-service in-house SPA, beachfront dining, infinity pool with swim up tiki bar, hot tub, kids’ pool, lounge bar, beachfront dining, kayaks, paddle boards and just minutes from the Garifuna Fishing Village of Hopkins. Here you can, dive with Whale Sharks, experience bioluminescent splendour and an array of other exciting adventure possibilities. ALMOND BEACH RESORT & SPA- is a full-service beachfront resort that is a haven for romance & wellness located on a five-mile stretch of golden beach and just minutes away from the Garifuna Fishing Village of Hopkins, Belize. It features a PADI 5 Star Dive Center, full-service in-house spa, infinity pool with swim up bar, kids’ pool, hot tub, lounge bar, beachfront dining, paddle boards, kayaks, water sports and land adventure tour desk. This resort is the ultimate spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. VILLA MARGARITA- Escape to a relaxing beach getaway where picturesque sunsets, white sandy beaches and alluring waters of the Caribbean Sea, is at the heart of your doorstep! Located in proximity to our other resorts Almond Beach Resort & Spa and Jaguar Reef Lodge & Spa, lies this exquisite three story dwelling known as Villa Margarita. Its expansive amenities and comfortable rooms are suitable for families, friends or business persons seeking a gratifying and gorgeous atmosphere. Be awakened to the sound of waves lapping on pristine beaches. Abandon your cares, relax and rejuvenate at our Beachfront Resort featuring a swimming pool, hot tub, bar, spa services and an array of exciting adventures, nature and water tours that Belize has to offer! BELIZE TREE HOUSES at Ian Anderson's Caves Branch offers outstanding accommodations with spectacular views of the surrounding jungle canopy where the songs of toucans, chortle of chachalacas and howls of howler monkeys harmonize and complement the soothing sound of the Caves Branch river below. To find out more about present and past awards: http://www.vivabelize.com/awards/
News Article | February 16, 2017
As the national attention to fake news and the debate over what to do about it continue, one place many are looking for solutions is in the classroom. Since a recent Stanford study showed that students at practically all grade levels can't determine fake news from the real stuff, the push to teach media literacy has gained new momentum. The study showed that while students absorb media constantly, they often lack the critical thinking skills needed to tell fake news from the real stuff. Teachers are taking up the challenge to change that. NPR Ed put out a social media call asking how educators are teaching fake news and media literacy, and we got a lot of responses. Here's a sampling from around the country: In Scott Bedley's version of Simon Says, it's not those two magic words that keep you in the game, but deciding correctly whether a news story is real or not. To start off the game, Bedley sends his fifth-graders at Plaza Vista School in Irvine, Calif., an article to read on their laptops. He gives them about three minutes to make their decision — they have to read the story carefully, examine its source and use their judgment. Those who think the article is false, stand up. The "true" believers stay in their seats. Bedley says he's been trying to teach his students for a while to look carefully at what they're reading and where it comes from. He's got a seven-point checklist his students can follow: 1. Do you know who the source is, or was it created by a common or well-known source? Example National Geographic, Discovery, etc. 2. How does it compare to what you already know? 3. Does the information make sense? Do you understand the information? 4. Can you verify that the information agrees with three or more other sources that are also reliable? 5. Have experts in the field been connected to it or authored the information? 6. How current is the information? 7. Does it have a copyright? Bedley also teamed up recently with Todd Flory at Wheatland Elementary School in Wichita, Kan., to do a fake news challenge via Skype. Flory's fourth-graders chose two real articles and wrote a fake article of their own. Then, they presented them to Bedley's class in California. The fifth-graders had four minutes to do some extra research based on the presentations, and then they decided which article out of the three were fake. Most importantly, they had to explain why they thought it was fake. Otherwise, no points. Flory says writing the fake news article was more difficult for his students than they expected because they had to make it believable. "It really hammered home the idea to them that fake news doesn't have to be too sensational," he says. "It can be a very subtle change, but that subtle change can have big consequences." Every Friday, Flory's class participates in what he calls Genius Hour. His students propose a question to answer through online research. But before they took to the Internet, Flory had to walk his students through the steps: What are reliable and trusted websites? How do you effectively search on the Internet and verify information? He uses Skype to connect his students with researchers and scientists from all over the world. He calls this "authentic research." "It's so much more powerful for them to do some of this authentic research when they're able to hear from a scientist who's seeing firsthand the effects of climate change," Flory says. This year's class got to talk to a penguin scientist. Flory says he's not only teaching his students effective media literacy skills; he is also helping them to be better citizens through global engagement and interaction. Remember Marie Antoinette and "Let them eat cake" — her famous line about the poor that got her in all that trouble? Thing is, it never happened. Fake news! For Diane Morey and her ninth-graders at Danvers High School in Danvers, Mass., that's a teachable moment. "The media of the day didn't have Facebook, Twitter or partisan websites," Morey says. "But they did have pamphlets." She shows her class cartoons and pamphlets from the French Revolutionary period that criticized Antoinette, and then discusses the conclusions that were made from those sources. She also includes a primary source: a letter written by Antoinette. Morey says history is rich with examples of fake news, and since source analysis is the core of her lesson plans, she doesn't need a textbook. "We don't study [history] to memorize Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI," she explains. "We're studying this because we can see this happening in the current-day political climate." Morey encourages students to bring in examples of articles from today's news that don't ring true. "Once you expose it to them," she says, "it's like a game for them, seeing, 'Hey, I'm not sure I can trust this.' " For 13 years, Larry Ferlazzo has been teaching kids who are learning English how to read and write. Now, he's adding another layer: helping them figure out if what they're reading is true. Ferlazzo teaches at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif. He's also a blogger and journalist. Last month, he wrote a lesson plan on addressing fake news to English language learners (ELLs), which was published in The New York Times. He says media literacy is especially important for ELLs for two reasons. First, they're not fluent in the language they're reading, adding an extra level of difficulty in deciding what to believe. On top of that, false or exaggerated news about immigration could have a major impact on their lives. His lesson starts off with a few examples of reliable and fake news. Then, some basic journalism stuff: Students identify the different parts of the news, from the "lede" to quotations. They enter all that into a diagram on paper so they have a visual representation of what they're reading. That diagram eventually becomes a guide for students to write their own fake news lede that they can share with other classmates or post on a class blog. In 2015, Spencer Brayton and his colleague Natasha Casey revamped a media literacy course for students at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill. Brayton says the key is the critical approach. "Students come in expecting that we're going to lecture," Brayton explains. "But we have them think about certain power structures in how information is produced and how it reaches them. If they're going to understand how they're going to take it in, then they have to know how the news is going to be produced." To take the class, students need a Twitter account. From the very first week, they are asked to follow five to 10 accounts on Twitter that promote media and information literacy, like Media Literacy Now or Renee Hobbs. As they follow these posts and add additional ones, the goal is that they'll start to recognize fake news and other biases or viewpoints in media. By the end of the course, Brayton says students begin to see themselves not only as creators of information, but as credible sources of information too. The Twitter assignments encourage his students to engage with social media - retweeting, following and commenting — which Brayton says helps his students see how they play a role in spreading information to other media consumers. That means they have to take what they share more seriously. "In looking at this issue, people seem to want a quick solution to fake news, but I'm not sure there is a solution (at least an easy one)," Brayton writes in an email. "Students need to recognize that these skills and ideas need to stay with them through adulthood, but that's easier said than done — we all fall into this trap."
News Article | February 15, 2017
The Amazonian rainforest was transformed over two thousand years ago by ancient people who built hundreds of large, mysterious earthworks. Findings by Brazilian and UK experts provide new evidence for how indigenous people lived in the Amazon before European people arrived in the region. The ditched enclosures, in Acre state in the western Brazilian Amazon, were concealed for centuries by trees. Modern deforestation has allowed the discovery of more than 450 of these large geometrical geoglyphs. The function of these mysterious sites is still little understood - they are unlikely to be villages, since archaeologists recover very few artefacts during excavation. The layout doesn't suggest they were built for defensive reasons. It is thought they were used only sporadically, perhaps as ritual gathering places. The structures are ditched enclosures that occupy roughly 13,000 km2. Their discovery challenges assumptions that the rainforest ecosystem has been untouched by humans. The research was carried out by Jennifer Watling, post-doctoral researcher at the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, University of São Paulo, when she was studying for a PhD at the University of Exeter. Dr Watling said: "The fact that these sites lay hidden for centuries beneath mature rainforest really challenges the idea that Amazonian forests are 'pristine ecosystems`. "We immediately wanted to know whether the region was already forested when the geoglyphs were built, and to what extent people impacted the landscape to build these earthworks." Using state-of-the-art methods, the team members were able to reconstruct 6000 years of vegetation and fire history around two geoglyph sites. They found that humans heavily altered bamboo forests for millennia and small, temporary clearings were made to build the geoglyphs. Instead of burning large tracts of forest - either for geoglyph construction or agricultural practices - people transformed their environment by concentrating on economically valuable tree species such as palms, creating a kind of 'prehistoric supermarket' of useful forest products. The team found tantalizing evidence to suggest that the biodiversity of some of Acre's remaining forests may have a strong legacy of these ancient 'agroforestry' practices. Dr. Watling said: "Despite the huge number and density of geoglyph sites in the region, we can be certain that Acre's forests were never cleared as extensively, or for as long, as they have been in recent years. "Our evidence that Amazonian forests have been managed by indigenous peoples long before European Contact should not be cited as justification for the destructive, unsustainable land-use practiced today. It should instead serve to highlight the ingenuity of past subsistence regimes that did not lead to forest degradation, and the importance of indigenous knowledge for finding more sustainable land-use alternatives". The full article will be released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and involved researchers from the universities of Exeter, Reading and Swansea (UK), São Paulo, Belém and Acre (Brazil). The research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, National Geographic, and the Natural Environment Research Council Radiocarbon Facility. To conduct the study, the team extracted soil samples from a series of pits dug within and outside of the geoglyphs. From these soils, they analysed 'phytoliths', a type of microscopic plant fossil made of silica, to reconstruct ancient vegetation; charcoal quantities, to assess the amount of ancient forest burning; and carbon stable isotopes, to indicate how 'open' the vegetation was in the past.
News Article | February 22, 2017
This May 5, 2011, photo provided by University of Colorado Boulder Museum of Natural History adjunct curator of anthropology Larry Benson shows the Pueblo del Arroyo archaeological site at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico. —More than a century ago, archeologists working in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon unearthed a hidden crypt containing the remains of 14 people: members of an elite, judging by the jewelry with which they were buried, roughly 1,000 years ago. The crypt was at the center of Pueblo Bonito, the ruins of a 650-room labyrinth. It was also at the center of a debate: Did the Chaco society operate with a strict hierarchy – and not governed communally, the way some Native American tribes are today? Now, researchers say an analysis of DNA extracted from the crypt’s remains, combined with radiocarbon dating techniques, offers new revelations. In a study published this week in the journal Nature Communications, the team writes that nine of the people buried in the Pueblo Bonito crypt were members of a dynasty extending over about 300 years and were related through their mothers. In other words, Chaco leadership was inherited through their mothers. Their discovery of a matrilineal elite could shift researchers’ theories about the nature of power in Chaco society. "For the first time, we're saying that one kinship group controlled Pueblo Bonito for more than 300 years," Steve Plog, a University of Virginia anthropologist and one of the study's co-authors, told Penn State’s news service. "This is the best evidence of a social hierarchy in the ancient Southwest." The first of the 14 to be buried, the team writes, was a man in his 40s who died from a blow to the head, after which he was interred with thousands of turquoise and shell beads and artifacts acquired from as far away as the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California – making it the “richest burial known in the American Southwest”. "It has been clear for some time that these were venerated individuals, based on the exceptional treatment they received in the afterlife – most Chacoans were buried outside of the settlement and never with such high quantities of exotic goods," Adam Watson, a postdoctoral fellow in the American Museum of Natural History's anthropology division, told Penn State’s news service. "But previously one could only speculate about the exact nature of their relationship to one another." Using DNA from mitochondria, sub-cellular structures that inherit DNA through the mother alone, the scientists concluded that the other eight people whose DNA they tested shared a maternal ancestor with him, according to Scientific American. That technique is an innovative one. And in providing evidence for the hereditary nature of power among the Chacoans, it also achieves a notoriously difficult feat, as National Geographic notes: finding evidence of hereditary leadership in societies that did not have writing systems. "If these results hold up, I think it's a game changer," American Museum of Natural History archaeologist David Thomas, who was not involved in the study, told the magazine. But it has also raised questions about whether the researchers should have gotten the permission of tribes that consider the Chacoans their ancestors, including the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, and Acoma. The Native American Graves Protection Act of 1990 requires that researchers using federal funding return human remains found on federal or tribal lands to Native American groups who can prove a direct cultural connection with them. In a statement cited by Scientific American, however, the paper’s authors wrote that the ancestral link to “specific modern communities based on existing data” was impossible to establish due to the “cultural complexity of the region.” “I am dismayed that there was not an effort to engage contemporary tribal leaders prior to undertaking and publishing this study,” Rebecca Tsosie, a Native American professor at the University of Arizona who specializes in federal Indian law, told the magazine. The research, she added, constitutes a “prime example” of “a study by cultural outsiders to dictate the truth of the history and structure of governance of the cultural insiders, Pueblo Indian nations.”
News Article | February 16, 2017
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "The New Social TV - on Snapchat" report to their offering. This report is the first critical appraisal of how major television broadcasters are innovating original Social TV content and formats, partnering with Snapchat. Discover the opportunities which broadcasters and producers are embracing on Snapchat: producing new forms of mobile-native Social TV content, building audiences via mobile, integrating advertising and ecommerce from global brands. Understand how broadcasters are developing strategies for partnering with Snapchat, creating original content, distributing it via Snapchat and reaching 150 million users worldwide. Find out how early adopters in this fast-moving and highly competitive new generation of Social TV are making an impact by entertaining, informing and engaging viewers with TV-based content on mobile. Television's Pioneers in the New Social TV The television organisations and channels covered in this report include: Comedy Central, CNN, E! Entertainment, ESPN, Food Network, L'Équipe, Liberty Global, MTV, National Geographic, NBCU, Sky News, Sky Sports, Turner Broadcasting, Viacom, Vice. 1. Executive Summary: the New Social TV - on Snapchat 2. Why Snapchat Rivals Twitter and Facebook in Social TV 3. TV Broadcasters Innovate Snapchat Social TV Formats and Content 4. How Snapchat Became a Worldwide TV and Media Partner 5. Snapchat Discover: Understanding a New Mobile TV and Media Distribution Paradigm 6. Snapchat Enters Global TV and Media Distribution 7. How Major TV Broadcasters and Shows Make an Impact on Snapchat 8. the Challenges of Producing Original Video Content for Discover 9. Innovating the Future of News for Mobile 10. Special Interest Publishers on Discover 11. Live Stories Content Partnerships 12. Live Stories Sports Partnerships 13. Analysis: Snapchat's Brand Advertising Business Model 14. Data for Effective Ad Targeting 15. Snapchat's New Mobile Advertising Products and Their Effectiveness 16. Case Studies: Major Brand Ad Campaigns 17. Key Data: User Growth, Demographics and Attitudes 18. Company Timeline and Major Developments - A&E Networks - ABC Family - Amazon - Audi - CNN - Cosmopolitan - Daily Mail - Disney - Dove - ESPN - Fusion - Gatorade - HBO - IGN - Marriott - MLB - MTV - NASCAR - National Geographic - NBCU - NFL - Refinery29 - Sky News - Sky Sports - Snapchat - Sweet - Target - Tastemade - The Wall Street Journal - The Washington Post - Time Warner - Toys R Us - Viacom - Vice Media and Vice News - Victoria's Secret For more information about this report visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/thqrnt/the_new_social_tv
News Article | March 1, 2017
Cable TV companies can be notoriously slow to adapt their business models to the way people are consuming media nowadays. There's a generation that's used to having content on demand and on the go, with services like Netflix and YouTube. In an effort to squeeze live TV into that model and pit itself against the likes of Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, Google has announced YouTube TV, a cable-like subscription service that will let viewers in the US to watch live TV on a range of devices, or save episodes to the cloud to watch later. YouTube TV will stream live TV from over 40 networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, Fox, The Disney Channel and National Geographic, as well as feeding in news and sport from smaller, regional stations, depending on where a viewer is located. The deal also includes access to the content hidden behind the paywall of YouTube Red, the company's own premium video service, and Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus can be thrown in as well, for an extra fee. It's all viewed through the YouTube TV app for iOS and Android, letting it play on phones, tablets and computers, and it can be streamed to a TV using a Google Chromecast. Content can be watched live, or tagged to record to a "cloud DVR". YouTube says there's no limit on how much can be stored on the service (although shows will be erased after nine months), and multiple streams can be recorded simultaneously. When you do get around to your backlog, it can be watched on any device through the app. The subscription itself will cost US$35 a month. That's more than three times the price of Netflix, but it's cheaper than what you'd pay for a cable bundle containing that lineup of networks and puts it in a similar ballpark to other live TV streaming services such as Sling TV, PlaySTation Vue and DirecTV Now – although channels on offer and plans obviously vary. A YouTube TV subscription can be canceled at any time, and includes up to six separate profiles, with their own cloud DVR library and recommendations. Besides "soon", there's no specific word yet on when the service will launch. YouTube says it will be rolled out in certain parts of the US first, but will expand across the country in time. Those interested can sign up to be notified when it's available in their area. Whether this, or a similar lineup, might eventually come to other countries is hard to tell, given the web of international licenses that would need to be untangled.
News Article | February 22, 2017
Seven new miniature species of frogs, now listed as some of the smallest known worldwide, have been discovered in India. Typically known as night frogs, the animals from the genus Nyctibatrachus are located in Western Ghats, a mountain range running down western India and teeming with rich biology. They add to the 28 previously known night frog species, over half of which were identified in the last five years. The discovery of the new species — four out of seven of which are tiny frogs measuring up to 15.4 millimeters in length and can sit comfortably on a coin or thumbnail — was made by Delhi University professor and “Frogman of India” Sathyabhama Das Biju along his team, the Times of India reported. Other frogs belonging to the genus predominantly live in streams, but these new finds were found under damp forest leaf litter or in marsh vegetation. They may have been abundant in numbers in the area, but were likely overlooked due to their very small size, insect-like calls, and secret habitats. “It was extremely difficult to locate the calling individuals because they were always hiding under thick ground vegetation and leaf litter,” Garg recalled. “If we went too close, they would stop calling, making it even more difficult.” Other domestic wildlife also got in the way, with the team getting chased by an elephant and having to “run for [their] lives, without the frog or the recording!” In the laboratory, the freshly sampled frogs were confirmed using DNA analysis, detailed studies of their physical characteristics, and bioacoustics. The confirmation brought the total number of known species in the genus to 35, or 20 percent of which are tiny in size. The genus also represents an ancient frog group diversifying on the local landmass about 70 to 80 million years earlier. Biju warned in an email to National Geographic, however, that the newly discovered species need to be protected immediately, as they found that their habitats are usually “highly disturbed by human activities.” Western Ghats, while remaining a biodiversity hotspot, is seeing an increase in human settlement and the building of large plantations in the area. Climate change is another threat it is facing. The warmer the temperatures, the more likely frogs are to move their ranges up when it comes to elevation — a prospect with uncertain consequences, according to Neil Cox of IUCN’s Biodiversity Assessment Unit. Of the 1,581 new amphibian species discussed around the world from 2006 to 2015, the highest numbers were from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest followed by the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka area. Of the estimated 159 described in the Indian biodiversity site, 103 came from the Western Ghats alone. Nearly a third of known amphibian species are facing threats of extinction. New discoveries like this fuel hope for scientists in understanding where the creatures live and how they can be better conserved. The findings were discussed in the journal PeerJ. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | February 15, 2017
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In the greatest adventure saga ever told -- the story of human civilization -- National Geographic presents ORIGINS: The Journey of Humankind - an eight-part series that traces the innovations that made the world modern. ORIGINS is a full-sensory, time-travel adventure that delves deep into history to find the pivotal ‘origin’ moments that fueled our evolutionary ascension. While we are in a fast-growing technological age fueled by smart phones, satellites and the ‘next big discovery,’ ORIGINS pauses to probe the biggest questions in the universe: How did we get here? How did Homo Sapiens evolve from apes swinging tree to tree to astronauts walking on the surface of the moon? Premiering Monday, March 6, at 9/8c, on National Geographic and in 171 countries and 43 languages later this spring, ORIGINS is a contemporary twist on the traditional historical documentary. World-class futurist and idea DJ Jason Silva (BRAIN GAMES, SHOTS OF AWE) leads us through a portal to explore these explosive events, such as the discoveries and applications of fire, that fundamentally and irrevocably created our modern lives. ORIGINS incorporates dramatic scripted storytelling, documentary sequences, expert analysis and dazzling audio-visual mashups designed by John Boswell -- also known worldwide as Melodysheep -- who is making his TV debut with original symphonies. Silva’s unique and compelling thought-jockey process organically and seamlessly shifts us across historical milestones while the world’s top minds -- experts across the fields of technology, war, communication, medicine, transportation, ecology, paleoanthropology, evolutionary biology and antiquity, to name a few -- inject cerebral heft with compelling commentary. “Everything we do today has deep roots in the past,” says Silva. “ORIGINS deconstructs moments that show how we rebelled against our fate in the animal kingdom and found a way to rise up, transcend and forge a new future in the modern world.” "Music touches us on a subconscious, instinctual level,” says Boswell. “It has a way of bringing human history to life and evoking deep-seated emotions that connect us to our past. This authentic collaboration with National Geographic allows us to reach a wide audience in telling the tale of humankind anew.” In the premiere episode, ORIGINS: Fire, we experience specific moments in history when fire allowed us to create, annihilate, expand and dominate. Nothing else throughout human history explains our existence more than fire; it’s been harnessed and applied throughout countless centuries to define who we are and will become. Silva transports viewers to 12000 BC when early man shockingly discovered the first spark, which grew to a flame and lit the world before their very eyes. Then jump to 1232 AD when the Jin Dynasty unearthed the greatest defense against the attacking Mongol hordes: a projected missile. Gunpowder produced the first chemical explosive that forever altered modern warfare. Silva takes us to 1666, when fire truly exposed itself as a double-edged sword, the Great Fire of London burnt down more than 90 churches and 13,000 houses, and more than 100,000 people were brought down to their knees with no place to call home. This devastation gave birth to the first modern city and one of the most enlightening periods in history -- the Industrial Revolution. Flashing forward a couple centuries to 1926 in the New World, American scientist Robert Goddard was the earliest pioneer of space technology, having created the first modern rocket, which was the basis of today’s spacecrafts that gave rise to satellites and modern communication. In ORIGINS, Silva is our tour guide through these hypnotic symphonies transporting viewers throughout time. Additional topics covered in the premiere season include medicine, money, war, communication, shelter, exploration and transportation. ORIGINS: The Journey of Humankind is produced by Asylum Entertainment for National Geographic. For Asylum Entertainment, Steve Michaels, Jonathan Koch, Ryann Lauckner, Simon George, Kurt Sayenga, Mark Monroe and Ben Bitonti are executive producers. For Melodysheep, John Boswell is executive producer. For National Geographic, Tim Pastore, Michel J. Miller and Kevin Tao Mohs are executive producers. For more information, visit our press room at natgeotvpressroom.com. National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the non-profit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. In its 15 years, Asylum Entertainment has produced a diverse slate of television long-form, features, documentaries and unscripted series, totaling thousands of hours of programming. The company has been honored with much critical acclaim and multiple award nominations for excellence in filmmaking. Asylum's lifeblood is its unscripted fare, and the company's robust factual exploits include critically acclaimed National Geographic Channel series Breakthrough and feature documentary Happy Valley. Additional series include Finding My Father; Codependent; Being Mike Tyson; Gangsters: America's Most Evil; scripted limited series The Kennedys (starring Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes, Tom Wilkinson and Barry Pepper), which won four of the 10 Emmy Awards for which it was nominated; Ring of Fire (starring Jewel as June Carter Cash), which garnered four more Emmy nods; as well as several others. Asylum is a wholly owned subsidiary of the prolific feature film studio Legendary Entertainment.
News Article | February 16, 2017
Bees in the U.S. are more endangered than ever, requiring protection under the Endangered Species Act for the very first time back in October. Now a college student in Georgia is showing the world just how environmentally vital these creatures really are — by creating a bee drone that pollinates flowers. SEE ALSO: National Geographic's 'Origins' is like 'Cosmos' but about the nature of human civilization Anna Haldewang, a 24-year-old senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design, created a black and yellow device called Plan Bee as a design project for a class. It's a single prototype that's made out of foam, plastic and a set of propellers that takes it into the air. When you flip the hand-sized drone upside down, it looks like a flower with six little sections that mimic petals. Those sections each contain tiny holes that the drone uses to suck in pollen. From there, the drone stores that pollen and later releases it during cross-pollination. Image: courtesy of Savannah College of Art and Design For now, Haldewang's design project hasn't been mass-produced or marketed. But she has high hopes for the prototype. Since her invention does all the great things a real-life bee does, it could one day be used as an educational tool for humans. "I would love to see people use it in their backyards and even create custom gardens with it," Haldewang told CNN. "With an actual bee, it's so small you don't notice it and how it's pollinating flowers. With the drone you can see how the process works." The pollination that bees do is essential for flowers receiving the nutrients they need and, thus, for the food chain to continue functioning properly. And there's some pretty important environmental benefits to this routine process of nature. For one, pollinated flowers release breathable oxygen into the air during photosynthesis. Aside from this cleaner air, the flowering plants also help water and soil in some pretty cool ways. "Flowering plants help to purify water and prevent erosion through roots that holds the soil in place," states the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, adding that the actual foliage of these plants offers a buffer that protects the ground during heavy rainfall. This isn't the first time the magical pollinating abilities of bee has been mimicked by robots. Just days ago, the results of a Japanese study about bee drones were published in the academic journal Chem. Haldewang, an industrial design student, first came up with the idea to make an artificial bee when her professor assigned a project that needed to be self-sustainable and help the growth of plants. Right now the Plan Bee drone may be seen as more of an educational tool, but that could change one day, according to Victor Ermoli, dean of the Savannah College of Art and Design. "The design is self-explanatory and it offers a very clever solution," he told CNN. "It could conceivably be used in large-scale farming, even in hydroponic farming."
News Article | February 15, 2017
A few years back, as I ran around the Royal Ontario Museum fossil halls trying to take in as much as I could in the short time I had there, an Ice Age fossil stopped me in my tracks. It was a fossil horse jaw, but unlike any I had seen before. The fossil seemed impossibly black, tooth and bone stained to gorgeous ebony shades. The beautiful fossil had been excavated decades before from a tar seep in Talara, Peru. I had never heard of this place before. When I think “tar pit”, I think La Brea. (Perhaps because, aside from being the most important fossil site on the planet, La Brea translates directly to “the tar.”) But the exhibits and a quick primer from ROM curator Kevin Seymour introduced me to an entirely different death trap that has produced a wealth of fossils colored by a deeper shade than the La Brea brown of their Californian counterparts. Much of what’s known about Talara comes from a collection of over 28,000 bones collected from the site from A.G. Edmund in 1958. The vast majority of these fossils – about 63.4 percent of identified bones – are from mammals, and of these more than 79 percent are the remains of carnivores. There are plenty of other creatures represented at Talara – songbirds, amphibians, horses, camels, ground sloths, mastodons, deer, and more – but this place was primarily a deadly draw for the meat-eaters. Some of the Talara carnivores are still with us. The Sechuran desert fox, wrote Seymour in an overview of the site, is represented by pieces of over 100 individuals pulled from the asphalt and still lives in the area. And when I giddily started pulling open cabinets in the ROM collections on my second day at the museum, Seymour was kind enough to point out a stunning fossil jaguar skull that had previously been mistaken for an American lion. But the biggest of the Talara carnivores are long gone. The site has given up the bones of at least 51 dire wolves and 20 Smilodon. Many of these animals were juveniles. And while the sample isn’t nearly as extensive as that of La Brea, Seymour notes, the proportion of juvenile animals for the three most common carnivores ranged from 57 to 69 percent. That seems quite high compared to La Brea and Ice Age fossil sites in Florida, and could indicate that either there were more juveniles around at the time the Talara tar seeps were active or that the young animals were more naive and blundered into the trap more often. All these figures are just the beginning of a new effort to understand the site. After early descriptions and fossil sorting by Charles Churcher and others in the 1960s, the fossils waited in the Royal Ontario Museum collections for a more recent surge of interest that is beginning to trickle out some new details about this sticky Pleistocene bonanza. And Talara is not the only undersung tar pit around. In another new paper Seymour and Emily Lindsey surveyed several other sites in the Americas ranging from McKittrick in California to La Carolina, Tanque Loma, and Corralito in Ecuador. Each site its own character and history. Tanque Loma, for example, is superabundant in sloths and has plenty of prehistoric elephants but totally lacks the big carnivores found elsewhere. La Corralito, on the other hand, has a somewhat more even mix of carnivores, sloths, horses, elephants. This is probably because these two sites didn’t kill the animals by suffocation in tar but were places where bones were laid down by rivers and then tar seeped up into them afterwards. There wasn’t the same deadly aroma of rotting flesh that pulled the wolves and sabercats to the tar in Talara and La Brea. For carnivores, those places were truly the pits. Lindsey, E., Lopez, E. 2014. Tanque Loma, a new late-Pleistocene megafaunal tar seep locality from southwest Ecuador. Journal of South American Earth Sciences. doi: 10.1016/j.jsames.2014.11.003 Lindsey, E., Seymour, K. 2015. “Tar Pits” of the Western Neotropics: Paleoecology, taphonomy, and mammalian biogeography. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Series, 42: 111-123 Seymour, K. 2015. Perusing Talara: Overview of the Late Pleistocene fossils from the tar seeps of Peru. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Series, 42: 97-109 [This post was originally published at National Geographic.]