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Interesting Achievements in December 2008

This year, the Greater Mekong Region of Southeast Asia has produced more than 1,000 exciting species in the last decade. A recent report filed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) mentioned an array of creatures, ranging from a rat believed to be extinct for 11 million years and a dragon millipede that generates a hot pink-tinted cyanide. In this article, you will also learn more about the mystery concerning the first ancient computer.

Greater Mekong Brings A Wealth of Discoveries In Past Decade

Between 1997 and 2007, approximately 1,068 species have been found in Greater Mekong, which roughly rounds out to two new discoveries per week. We will now gain insight into the largest huntsman spider in the world, which possesses a leg span that measure one-foot. A new mammal discovered in the region includes the Annamite Striped Rabbit, which is pretty significant since discovering new mammals is pretty rare these days.

Researchers ploughed through jungles that hadn’t been explored at the time and trudged through wetlands to locate new species, yet some finds were discovered in some of the oddest places. For example, the Laotian rock rat resurfaced in a local food market. In Thailand, the Siamese Peninsula pit viper made itself known by simply moving along the rafters of a restaurant in Khao Yai National Park.

When it comes to biological wonders, the Greater Mekong has been elevating its reputation as ‘the’ place to explore for new species. The number of rare and exotic species located in this region is astounding. The more scientists keep poking through the nooks and crannies of the terrain, the more examples of undiscovered or rediscovered wildlife keep emerging.

All in all, the final report shows 519 plants, 279 fish, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 15 mammals, 22 snakes, 4 birds, 2 salamanders, 4 turtles, and one toad. The researchers spent the past 10 years or so in a region consisting of six countries where the Mekong River thrives. This includes destinations like Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia.

A 2000-Year Old Computer Rebuilt?

Just when you thought that the computer age was a fairly recent luxury, a British museum curator was able to build a working replica of a Greek machine used more than 2,000 years ago. It is believed to have been the first computer of the world. But, how is this possible?

The size of a dictionary, the collection of parts consisting of 37 dials that interlocked with precise craftsmanship is reminiscent of a Swiss clock from the 19th century. It is thought that the ‘Antikythera mechanism’ was used for modeling and predicting the movements of the heavenly bodies, and even proved helpful in assessing the dates and locations of future Olympic games.

Originally, about 80 shards of the Antikythera were saved from an underwater resting place in 1902, which was located close to the Greek island of Antikythera. At the time, the pieces were rusted and attached to one another. It seemed nearly impossible that the pieces would ever amount to anything. Scientists believe that the parts dated back to 150 BC and its purpose was elusive. The mystery lingered for quite some time. Since the 1950s, an assortment of scientists worked on putting the pieces together and coming to a conclusion as to what it all meant.

In more recent times, highly advanced imaging technology was used to come closer to their goal, relying on gamma-ray imaging, X-ray imaging, and 3-dimensional computer modeling. Finally, the ‘machine’ was rebuilt with the help of former curator at the Science Museum in London, Michael Wright. His replica of the Antikythera is in perfect working condition. He has also created a video to illustrate just how the machine works.