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Re: scientists create new type of matter

Postby Damelon » Fri Jan 30, 2004 2:30 pm

Thanks for posting that, Kin! I came across that article at work yesterday and thought it would be good for here. Superconductivity, if it can be done at "room temperature" would be quite an advance of science. <i></i>
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I guess we're not the only ones who think it's cold!

Postby Damelon » Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:37 pm

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Gray whales are turning up in record numbers at their breeding grounds in Mexico this year as they flee harsh winter temperatures in the north Pacific, Mexico's environment ministry said on Friday.

Initial surveys show that more than 1,200 gray whales have already completed their annual 10,000 km (6,250 miles) migration from the icy Bering Sea off Alaska to their breeding grounds off Mexico's west coast -- the highest number recorded in 10 years.

The surge comes as Arctic winds and record low temperatures sweep the northern United States and Alaska was suffering severe weather conditions and freezing rain.

"The rise in the numbers of this marine mammal off our beaches is due to the harshness of the winter in the north which prompted a major migration of whales seeking the warmth of Mexican waters," the ministry said in a statement.

At the peak of the migration season, during the second half of February, the number of gray whales in Mexican waters could exceed 1,500, the ministry said.

Gray whales migrate south every year from their summer feeding grounds off Alaska from January to April to breed in warm-water bays around Baja California, northwestern Mexico.

Their numbers are estimated to have risen to around 26,000 worldwide from around 13,000 in the 1960s thanks to bans on most whaling.






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male primate sexual response and the brain

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Feb 02, 2004 4:05 am

Study: Male monkeys approach sex headfirst
Friday, January 30, 2004 Posted: 7:16 AM EST (1216 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Some people may joke that men don't think with their heads when it comes to sex, but a study in monkeys suggests the brain plays a significant role in the decision to mate, researchers reported.

Brain scans of tiny marmoset monkeys show a lot of thought goes into choosing mates, the team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said.

They used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to look at the brain functions of the Brazilian monkeys. Writing in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, they said the brains became busy when the monkeys smelled sexy scents.

"We were surprised to observe high levels of neural activity in areas of the brain important for decision-making, as well as in purely sexual arousal areas, in response to olfactory cues," psychology professor Charles Snowdon said in a statement.

"Lighting up far more brightly than we expected were areas associated with decision-making and memory, emotional processing and reward, and cognitive control."

Like people, common marmosets live in family groups and do not mate freely with one another. They must make careful choices.

Snowdon's team studied four male marmosets, offering them gland secretion samples from females at or close to ovulation. They also let the monkeys smell samples from females whose ovaries had been removed, and who therefore were not fertile and, presumably, not sexy.

The researchers were surprised to see how much more of the animals' brain lit up when they smelled the samples from fertile females -- including areas of complex, cognitive reasoning.

"This is the first time anyone has imaged an awake nonhuman primate in response to emotionally arousing stimuli. It is also the first link between external sexual odors and the internal sexual arousal system," Snowdon said. "This opens up a whole new field of research possibilities."

He said the marmoset data corresponded surprisingly closely to human fMRI studies.
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2 comets this spring :)

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Thu Feb 26, 2004 1:48 am

Pair of comets set for spring sky show
By Robert Roy Britt
SPACE.com
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 Posted: 3:22 PM EST (2022 GMT)

(SPACE.com) -- A pair of comets that astronomers have been monitoring for several months could become plainly visible in the night sky this spring.

Each comet is currently visible in telescopes. Scientists can't say for sure how bright they will get, but there is some optimism that both might reflect enough sunlight to be visible to the unaided eye at the same time.

For viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, the odds look good for at least one interesting spectacle. It will be a few weeks, however, before firmer predictions can be made of the other comet.

"If they brighten as predicted, then both may be visible to the naked eye in late April and part of May," said Dan Green, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and director of the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, which monitors comet observations among other things.

It would be unusual for two comets to be visible in the sky at once. The objects are catalogued as C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) and C/2002 T7 (LINEAR).

They will likely be referred to commonly as comets NEAT and LINEAR.

Out of the deep freeze
Comets are frozen balls of ice and dirt that typically originate in the far reaches of the solar system. They are leftovers of the formation process -- essentially frozen rocks that didn't get incorporated into planets.

Now and then one is gravitationally booted to the inner solar system. As a comet nears the Sun, solar radiation kicks up surface material, which then surrounds the comet in a coma, or head. Sometimes a tail forms, too. The heads and tails of gas and dust are visible because they reflect sunlight.

Comet NEAT was discovered by the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program in August 2001. At the time, it was a 20th magnitude object. On this scale of brightness used by astronomers, smaller numbers represent brighter objects. Very bright stars are magnitude 1 or 2. The dimmest objects visible under very dark skies are around magnitude 6.5.

NEAT could brighten to 1st or 2nd magnitude in late April and remain that bright through mid-May, according to a statement issued today by the CfA.

Comet LINEAR was found by the Lincoln Laboratory Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program in October 2002. It may become visible to the naked eye in mid-March for experienced observers under dark skies.

Uncertain predictions
Astronomers think both comets are making their first trips through the inner solar system, so it is impossible to predict with certainty how bright they will become.

"Comets do a lot of things that are unpredictable," Green said.

Some comets break apart, losing any chance of great brilliance. Others experience sudden outbursts that can make them far brighter than expected. Others remain unimpressive for reasons not well understood.

Comet NEAT will first be visible from the Southern Hemisphere. It shows up for viewers north of the equator in early May.

Comet LINEAR will also be visible from the Southern Hemisphere, and depending on how much it brightens it might be seen just before sunrise in late April and early May by Northern-Hemisphere observers.

Joe Rao, SPACE.com's Night Sky columnist, cautions that comets making their first loop around the inner solar system have a tendency to fall short of expectations.

"I think if prospective skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere are looking for a good sky show they're going to have to pin their hopes on Comet NEAT," Rao said. "Comet LINEAR will unfortunately remain rather close to the Sun and very low down near the eastern horizon all through April and early May, making it rather difficult to see."

Comet NEAT, on the other hand, "should vault high into the western evening sky during May making it much easier to sight," Rao said. "Observers in the Southern Hemisphere will have an advantage in that both comets will be fairly high up and easy to spot."





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Is Morality Hardwired into our Brains by Evolution?

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Tue Mar 09, 2004 6:21 pm

There is a very interesting article in this month's Discover magazine about philosophy and morality in humans and in primates, and one scientists's search for the biological mechanisms of them. You can read the entire article in the April, 2004 Discover, or can access part of it on the following link (though you must be a subscriber to the magazine or the website to get the entire article)...

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Fast Jet

Postby kinslaughterer » Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:47 am

Quote:NASA Believes Test Jet Hit 5,000-Mph Mark
Mon Mar 29, 9:06 AM ET Add Science - AP to My Yahoo!


By ROBERT JABLON, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES - Three years after its first test flight ended in an explosion, NASA (news - web sites) successfully launched an experimental jet that the agency believes reached a record-setting speed of about 5,000 mph.


The unpiloted X-43A made an 11-second powered flight Saturday, then went through some twists and turns during a six-minute glide before plunging into the Pacific Ocean about 400 miles off the California coast.


"It was fun all the way to Mach 7," said Joel Sitz, project manager at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center.


Flight engineer Lawrence Huebner said preliminary data indicated the needle-nosed jet reached a maximum speed of slightly over seven times the speed of sound, or about 5,000 mph, after a rocket boosted it to about 3,500 mph.


Huebner said it was the first time an "air-breathing" jet had ever traveled so fast. The rocket-powered X-15 reached Mach 6.7 in 1967.


"It's a great way to end, certainly all the sweeter because of the challenges we've had to step up to and overcome through the life of this project," said Griffin Corpening, Dryden's chief engineer on the project.


The first X-43A flight ended in failure June 2, 2001, after the modified Pegasus rocket used to accelerate the plane veered off course and was detonated. An investigation board found preflight analyses failed to predict how the rocket would perform, leaving its control system unable to maintain stable flight.


NASA built the X-43A under a $250 million program to develop and test an exotic type of engine called a supersonic-combustion ramjet, or scramjet.


In theory, the air-breathing engine could propel an airplane to speeds of Mach 7 or faster, enabling around-the-world flights that would take several hours. The Department of Defense (news - web sites) also is working on the technology, which it's eyeing for use in bombers that quickly could reach targets anywhere on the globe.


The 12-foot-long, 2,800-pound X-43A was mounted on a Pegasus rocket booster and carried to an altitude of 40,000 feet by a modified B-52 bomber, which took off from Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert.


A few seconds after the craft was dropped, the rocket flared, sending the jet skyward on a streak of flame and light. At about 100,000 feet, the rocket dropped away.


The scramjet took over, using up about two pounds of gaseous hydrogen fuel before gliding. Applause rang out in the control center at Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards.


Technological hurdles mean it will be decades before such a plane could enter service. And NASA's role in developing the technology remains in doubt, as the agency recently cut funding for more advanced versions of the X-43A.


Engineers have pursued scramjet technology because it could allow rocket-speed travel but with considerable savings in weight. Rockets must carry their own oxygen to combust the fuel they carry aboard; scramjets can scoop it out of the atmosphere.


In scramjets, oxygen is rammed into a combustion chamber where it mixes with fuel and spontaneously ignites. To work, the engine must be traveling at about five times the speed of sound — requiring an initial boost that only a rocket can provide.


A third X-43A could fly as early as the fall.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.<i></i>
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Tool Using Wild Dolphins

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Jun 06, 2005 10:47 pm

Researchers: Dolphins use sponges as tools
Monday, June 6, 2005 Posted: 6:13 PM EDT (2213 GMT)

Researchers suspect the sponges help the dolphins avoid getting stung by stonefish and other creatures.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A group of dolphins living off the coast of Australia apparently teach their offspring to protect their snouts with sponges while foraging for food in the sea floor.

Researchers say it appears to be a cultural behavior passed on from mother to daughter, a first for animals of this type, although such learning has been seen in other species.

The dolphins, living in Shark Bay, Western Australia, use conically shaped whole sponges that they tear off the bottom, said Michael Kruetzen, lead author of a report on the dolphins in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"Cultural evolution, including tool use, is not only found in humans and our closest relatives, the primates, but also in animals that are evolutionally quite distant from us. This convergent evolution is what is so fascinating," said Kruetzen.

Researchers suspect the sponges help the foraging dolphins avoid getting stung by stonefish and other critters that hide in the sandy sea bottom, just as a gardener might wear gloves to protect the hands.

Kruetzen and colleagues analyzed 13 "spongers" and 172 "non-spongers" and concluded that the practice seems to be passed along family lines, primarily from mothers to daughters.

"Teaching requires close observation by the pupil," Kruetzen said. "Offspring spend up to four years before they are weaned, so they would have ample time to observe their mum doing it -- if she is a sponger."

"This study provides convincing evidence that the behavior is transmitted via social learning," commented Laela Sayigh of the University of North Carolina Center for Marine Science.

"Such social learning appears to be widespread among the Shark Bay dolphins," said Sayigh, who was not part of Kruetzen's team.

Only one male was observed using a sponge. Kruetzen noted that, as adults, male and female dolphins have very different lifestyles.

Adult males form small groups of two or three individuals that chase females in reproductive condition, he explained. "I would think that they do not have time to engage in such a time-consuming foraging activity as adults, as they are busy herding females."

Currently at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, Kruetzen was at the University of New South Wales, Australia, when the research was conducted. The work was funded by the Australian Research Council, the National Geographic Society, the W.V. Scott Foundation and the Linnaean Society of New South Wales.


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New Findings on Titan

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:58 am

Study: Possible ice volcano on Saturn moon
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 Posted: 5:12 PM EDT (2112 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- The international Cassini spacecraft has spotted what appears to be an ice volcano on Saturn's planet-size moon, a finding that may help explain the source of Titan's thick atmosphere.

Infrared images snapped by the orbiting Cassini reveal a 20-mile (30-kilometer) -wide dome that appears to be a cryovolcano, a volcanic-like vent that spews forth ice instead of lava. Scientists theorize the volcano at one time spat out icy plumes that released methane into Titan's atmosphere.

The findings appear in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

Titan is the only moon in the solar system that has a significant atmosphere made up of nitrogen and methane. Its atmosphere is similar to that of primordial Earth and scientists believe that studying it could provide clues to how life began.

Scientists have long speculated that the organic materials in Titan's atmosphere were formed by seas or lakes of methane or ethane, but the latest Cassini images did not show any evidence that Titan is awash in pools of methane. Methane is a highly flammable gas on Earth, but it is liquid on Titan because of the intense atmospheric pressure and cold.

"Interpreting this feature as a cryovolcano provides an alternative explanation for the presence of methane in Titan's atmosphere," said Christophe Sotin, a team member of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer.

Although the ice volcano is inactive, scientists believe similar volcanoes may exist elsewhere on Titan that ooze a methane-water ice mixture to the surface.

In an accompanying editorial, Louise Prockter of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University noted that while the ice volcano hypothesis was intriguing, higher-resolution images could reveal that the structure is something other than a volcano.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a joint NASA-European Space Agency project. The combined craft was launched in 1997 and arrived in orbit of the ringed planet last year. Huygens, a probe developed and controlled by the ESA, touched down earlier this year.

The latest finding is based on a Cassini flyby of Titan on October 26, 2004. Forty-five flybys are planned during Cassini's four-year mission. The next one will be August 22.



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Elephants Return to Karoo

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Sat Jun 11, 2005 1:43 am

Elephants return to South Africa's Karoo region
Friday, June 10, 2005 Posted: 11:57 AM EDT (1557 GMT)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- Elephants are back in South Africa's semi-arid Karoo region for the first time in more than 150 years, adding new life to a harsh environment that saw much of its large wildlife exterminated long ago.

The family group of 12 elephants was relocated from South Africa's Kruger National Park to Kuzuko, a 14,500 hectare nature reserve on the Karoo's southern boundary.

"They were released this morning and everything went well," Megan Bradfield, an ecologist with South African National Parks, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Two bulls from the adjoining Addo Elephant National Park, which lies just south of the Karoo, will join them later in June to ensure a healthy genetic mix.

Scientists say elephants have not graced the Karoo -- a vast semi-arid region famed for its haunting landscapes and big skies -- for at least 150 years.

Like rhino and other big Karoo game, elephants were long since hunted out by white settlers who mostly took to sheep farming in the dry and inhospitable terrain.

"Elephant population densities would never have been very high in the Karoo. ... We want to see how this group adapts and plan to monitor their impact on the vegetation," said Bradfield.

In a reversal of recent history, Kuzuko's former sheep and cattle farms are now being reclaimed by the surrounding wilderness.

South African National Parks has already introduced black rhino and several species of antelope into the area. Lion, leopard and buffalo -- which also roamed parts of the Karoo in the past -- will be introduced in the future.

One of the aims of the project -- a partnership between the government and foreign investors -- is to create employment in an area where many people live in abject poverty.


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:razz to danlo

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:00 am

I did see condors last summer!!!!!

Quote:
Endangered condors soar over Arizona skies
Monday, June 13, 2005 Posted: 12:27 PM EDT (1627 GMT)

A condor flies above the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. On some days, as many as 25 to 30 condors soar over the canyon area.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona (AP) -- The South Rim of the Grand Canyon has long been a favorite of human visitors gawking at the stunning views and taking advantage of the manmade services.

As it turns out, the South Rim also is a favorite of endangered California condors -- for many of the same reasons. The large birds often gather to watch people, socialize with one another and drink from a leaky water pipe.

On some days, as many as 25 to 30 condors soar over the canyon area -- more birds than were in existence a generation ago when officials decided to capture and breed them.

The birds, which have dull orange featherless heads with a stubby beak and dark body feathers, were reintroduced in the wild in Arizona starting in 1996. What began with the release of six birds 50 miles north of here has led to a flock of 53, including some of the first wild-born condors since the early 1980s.

Two of the three fledglings hatched in Arizona have survived, and three other condor pairs are nesting this year, said Chris Parish, the Peregrine Fund's condor director in Arizona. The nonprofit Peregrine Fund runs a breeding facility in Boise, Idaho, where the birds are hatched and prepared for release, and has overseen Arizona's condor program.

Parish and others say it's too early to call the reintroduction a success because the population isn't yet self-sustaining.

"But we finally have a foothold," he said. "I, for one, have confidence ... we're well on our way."

California condors are among the largest birds native to North America and have no natural predators. With a wingspan up to 9 1/2 feet, they have a reach 2 feet wider than NBA giant Yao Ming.

The condors, which may live up to 60 years, were driven to near extinction by the early 1980s. Shootings, poisonings and crashes with power lines combined with their naturally low reproductive rate shriveled the birds' population.

To keep them from entirely disappearing, federal officials and nonprofit groups worked to capture the birds and breed them with hopes that they could be released into the wild again.

Releases began in 1992 in California. Today, there are about 118 birds in the wild in Arizona, central and southern California and coastal Mexico.

Jesse Grantham, condor recovery program coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the 25-year project to save the condors has taught biologists along the way.

The early years of reintroduction were difficult because the young birds didn't have older birds to follow in the wild. Biologists didn't anticipate that the young condors would need mentors, but it makes sense in hindsight, he said.

Now that older birds have established patterns in the wild, it has become safer for younger birds to follow.

The people in the region have also adapted to the return of the wild birds.

Some residents of northern Arizona and southern Utah were concerned about the reintroduction when it began. They feared the endangered birds would bring federal intrusion and restrictions, Parish said.

But now, the locals are accustomed to the birds, and canyon visitors, who hardly noticed them at first, love them.

At least one South Rim gift shop sells condor plush toys and T-shirts bearing the condor image. Park officials hold daily, sometimes twice daily, interpretive programs for visitors about the condors right over the South Rim location the birds use as their social hub, said Chad Olson, the canyon's raptor biologist.

"It's such a unique situation where you can show people one of the most endangered species in the world," he said.

The park is a blessing and curse for the condors, he said. It's protected and has millions of acres of habitat for the birds, which have a home-range radius of 50 to 70 miles. But there are a lot of people here, and biologists fear the condors will come to think that people are safe.

"There are some challenges we deal with, primarily people management more than bird management," said Olson, who sometimes waves his arms to scare the birds if they come too close to the crowds gathered on the rim.

But the canyon's rim is attractive to the birds, in part because there is so much activity and because they are so curious, he said.

"It's such a crazy unnatural situation, where you have this insane amount of activity," Olson said. "They innately know the places to find food is where there's activity."


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Re: :razz to danlo

Postby danlo60 » Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:33 am

they were hawks! *****
Before, you are wise; after, you are wise. In between you are otherwise.
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razz to danlo

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:37 am

They were condors!! <i></i>
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Re: razz to danlo

Postby danlo60 » Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:55 pm

hawks!!! *****
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razz to danlo!

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Wed Jun 15, 2005 10:50 pm

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promising new cancer treatment research

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Thu Jun 16, 2005 5:08 am

Quote:
U-M researchers develop targeted chemo procedure
Drugs delivered only to cancer cells and avoid toxic side effects, scientists report
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
BY TRACY DAVIS
News Staff Reporter
Using nanotechnology, University of Michigan researchers have found a way to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs to tumor cells in animals. That not only increased the drugs' effectiveness, it reduced toxic side effects.

Previous studies employing cell cultures had suggested that nanotechnology could be an effective vehicle for the delivery of cancer drugs. But this is the first study to show the effectiveness of nanotechnology drug delivery systems in living animals. The study will be published in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research today.

Study director Dr. James R. Baker Jr., the Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Biologic Nanotechnology at the University of Michigan, said he thinks nanotechnology will improve cancer treatment.

"The truly unique thing here is we can show for the first time we can take a cancer drug ... and get it inside the cancer cells," said Baker, who directs U-M's Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences. "So we give chemotherapy just to cancer cells, and avoid the toxic side effects."

Baker said he thought the research would have applications for many types of chemotherapy drugs, and many types of cancer. He and colleagues hope to have human clinical trials under way within 18 months, he said.

"It's very exciting work," said Max Wicha, director of the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center. He said other types of nanotechnology employing imaging capability allowed doctors to better know where tumors had spread.

Piotr Grodzinski, program director for cancer nanotechnology at the National Cancer Institute, said research of the sort Baker and his colleagues are doing - finding more effective ways to deliver older cancer treatments - would likely change how people are treated for cancer in the future.

He cautioned that animal studies don't always mean scientists can get the same outcome in human clinical trials. But he added, "if this works in people then we've really got something. It's a significant step forward."

Nanotechnology involves the use of tiny molecules. In this case, the molecules scientists used were so small, less than five nanometers in diameter, they could slip through the walls of cell membranes. A nanometer equals one-billionth of a meter.

To deliver the particle to cancer cells, scientists attach folic acid molecules. Cancer cells soak up more folate than regular cells through additional receptor sites on the cell surface. That helps prevent the cancer cells from developing resistance to drugs, and it helps the cells immediately internalize the particle, with the cancer drug attached.

In conventional chemotherapy, cancer drugs diffuse slowly over a cell membrane to get inside the cancer cell. That takes a long time, and it usually requires higher concentrations of the drug, which can lead to damage of normal cells and tissue.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute. The University of Michigan has filed a patent application on targeted nanoparticle technology. A licensing agreement is currently being negotiated with Avidimer Therapeutics, an Ann Arbor biopharmaceutical company in which Baker holds a financial interest, according to U-M.

Tracy Davis can be reached at tdavis@annarbornews.com

or (734) 994-6856.
© 2005 Ann Arbor News. Used with permission
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