Kecil Finds a Mom (and Happy World Orangutan Day!)

johannes marliem3 300x214 Kecil Finds a Mom (and Happy World Orangutan Day!)

Kecil and Maggie

Kecil (pronounced ka-cheel) is less than a year old, but has already done his share of moving around and meeting new people. He was born to Yasmin in January at the Toledo Zoo after a difficult delivery. The young Bornean orangutan was neglected by his mother after his birth, and like humans, early maternal care is extremely important for development. Zookeepers are still unsure as to why Kecil’s mom did not want to spend time with her newborn son, despite the fact that she has had children before, but similar situations have happened before.

After having a few false starts, including a failed surrogate situation by MJ at the Milwaukee County Zoo, Kecil has what seems like a permanent home. Maggie is a 53-year-old Bornean orangutan at the Brookfield Zoo that has been a surrogate mom in the past, most recently in 2002. The two seem like an unlikely match, but they have been bonding and Maggie has offered all of the maternal care that a growing orangutan needs. With her help, Kecil will grow up to be well-adjusted, able to relate to his peers, less nervous, and more patient than orangutans that grow up without an adult.

A surrogate orangutan mom is needed every three to five years, but only once has a baby had to move more than once. While Kecil is a special case, he is now receiving the best care from a loving mom that has an amazing history raising children. Maggie carries Kecil up to ledges he can’t yet reach and lets him nibble her food. It is extremely important for Kecil to grow up with an orangutan to which he can relate in order to be socialized properly, and Maggie has taken on the maternal role like no human caregiver ever could. For the next few months, the two will be off exhibit in order to allow Kecil to mature properly, but we hope to see Kecil and Maggie at the end of the year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTIwQAXPfeM

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The First Step in Saving a Species

 The First Step in Saving a Species

Earlier this year, orangutan conservation reached a new milestone, redefining the way we will view future species preservation. A nonprofit called LEO Zoological Conservation Center is the first to successfully use assisted reproduction to help Maggie, a 22-year-old orangutan, give birth to a healthy baby boy.

Dr. Mark Leondires of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut is a leader in his field, working in the treatment of infertility in humans. His work with the LEO Zoological Conservation Center has led to the creation of a minimally-invasive procedure that has yielded results just short of miraculous. After one round of natural cycle intrauterine insemination, Maggie was pregnant. This success made her the first orangutan to become pregnant and have a healthy birth using the treatment.

This accomplishment in reproductive science may contribute to overall species stability if the treatment works for other female orangutans in captivity as well as it did for Maggie. Habitat loss in Maggie’s native Sumatra is accelerating; scientists estimate that orangutans could go extinct in less than 30 years if deforestation continues. The pioneering work of Dr. Leondires and the LEO Zoological Conservation Center, in addition to habitat preservation, will ensure the conservation of such an important, beautiful species.

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Drink Coffee, Protect Orangutans

 Drink Coffee, Protect Orangutans

Orangutan conservation is imperative, especially in the face of widespread habitat loss and the illegal pet market. One way that everyone can get involved, regardless of how much extra time and money they have, is coffee. Approximately 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee daily, and 88% of households donated to charity last year. Combining the two in an effort to support orangutan conservation only makes sense. Orang Utan Coffee works to preserve critical habitat for orangutans while producing sustainable, organic, flavorful, and ethically-sourced coffee. Right now the coffee is only available in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland, but hopefully we will find it soon on shelves and in coffee shops in the United States. To learn more about Orang Utan Coffee, their mission, and their accomplishments, click here.

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New Matter, New Opportunities

A new technological age began when MakerBot popularized the 3-D printer. Demand continues to be high for the revolutionary devices, yet, they are not accessible to many businesses, let alone households or individuals. What if 3-D printing was available to the masses, with the same functionality, at a lower price? Enter New Matter, backed by Idealab and Frog Design, that plans to do just that.

 New Matter, New Opportunities

The brainchild of New Matter cofounder Stephen Schell is a 16x12x15 inch printer with a suite of companion apps to make 3-D printing even more useful. Schell has been working in the field for 10 years, starting with business applications of the technology, and now he is bringing his ideas and experience to individual consumers. The wild idea of New Matter is to enable the sharing of 3-D prints like text messages with low cost, accessibility, and simple software culminating in the next generation of 3-D printers: the MOD-t.

The collaboration between Frog Design (the company that works with Apple, Microsoft, GE, and Sony, to name a few) and New Matter has yielded amazing results. They’ve put together an online store and apps that allow users to download and share 3-D prints, straight from app to printer over wi-fi. The printer is reasonably priced, small, and looks good enough to put next to your iMac on your desk. Because the MOD-t is the first of its kind, there will be kinks, limitations, and general confusion; however, New Matter is opening the door to connected, accessible 3-D printing for everyone.

What do you think? For under $200, would you support New Matter’s endeavor?
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A New Kind of Wearable Tech That You Won’t Forget When You Leave in the Morning

Wearable technology is great because it connects you to everything you need while being discreet, lightweight, and portable. The downside is that your fitness tracker, watch, or glasses are easily forgotten when they are so small and seamlessly integrated into your daily life. One startup company is looking for a way to ensure that you don’t go about your day without your smart accessories. OMsignal is working on a few shirts that sense heart rate, breathing levels, and movement via electrodes sewn into the fabric. The data is gathered and presented in an iPhone app that will also track calories burned and steps taken. Wearable technology aims to add a small gadget to your outfit to add functionality to your normal attire, but soon, your outfit itself could make your Fitbit obsolete.

OMsignal’s shirt and gadget combination costs almost $100 more than a Pebble smartwatch now, but they hope clothing manufacturers will pick up the technology and integrate it into their own clothes. The shirts also more accurately capture the biological data from your workout since the sensors are closer to your heart and lungs than a wristband. Wearable technology is still very much in its early stages, and like all new gadgets, it has some kinks that still need to be worked out. I’m excited about this new development in technology and can’t wait to see where OMsignal, and so many other startups go with it.

 A New Kind of Wearable Tech That You Won’t Forget When You Leave in the Morning

Learn more about OMsignal here and let me know what you think in the comments!

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The Future of Green Energy

As technological advances are made at increasing speed, the need for clean, cost-effective, consistent, and efficient energy is becoming imperative to fuel the future. Sustainable energy sources now need extremely specific locations, times, and environments in order to work, and engineers are still facing challenges regarding storing and transporting the energy produced. One company has created a solution to the confining aspects of green energy, but only in regions that are warm year-round. While location is still a restricting factor in the efficacy of this new green energy production, Solar Wind Energy, Inc. has laid the foundation for a “bold yet brilliant” sustainable future.

 The Future of Green Energy

Solar Wind Energy, Inc. has found an innovative way to surpass the current limits on alternative energy production while fostering energy independence: the Solar Wind Energy Tower. The Tower combines the best aspects of both solar and wind technology to harness the natural power of downdrafts, a clean, renewable resource that will provide a myriad of benefits for the corporations and countries that invest. The greatest benefit of this new alternative energy source is that it can operate all day, every day of the year, unlike wind or solar power on their own.

The first Solar Wind Energy Tower will be built in San Luis, Arizona and will be able to produce 1,250 megawatts an hour on a hot summer day. It will be functional in 2018, and hopefully by that time, others in hot climates will experiment with the revolutionary technology too. The group of scientists, business professionals, engineers, and industry consultants behind this project hope to implement the Tower in places like the southern United States, Africa, the Middle East, and other locations where the weather is hot and energy independence is a goal. Check out the video below to learn more about how the Solar Wind Energy Tower works and why it may be the green energy of the future.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMMlmqohOJs

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The Bible of Barbecue

“All-in-one” is a phrase that’s used frequently to describe everything from computers to insurance plans, but never for a book. The company JWT Brazil changed that with Biblia Definitiva Do Churrasco: The Bible of Barbecue. I love amazing food and learning about new delicacies and ways to prepare old classics. This book, while only released to “master barbecue chefs” right now, is a masterpiece on its own: each page in the book serves a purpose in the preparation of the perfect barbecue, from prepping to serving. The book is a mix of artistic typography, useful tools, and culinary how-tos. Creating a meal is accomplished by deconstructing the book: tear out pages to season your steak, light your grill, and clean your countertop. A knife sharpener, cutting board, apron, and serving plate are all inside the wood-bound Bible. Check out the video below to see more of the extremely unique and useful all-in-one book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l1glIKMtqE

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Commercial Space Travel

Johannes Marliem2 Commercial Space Travel

Recently, Virgin Galactic was cleared by the U.S. government to begin commercial space flights. For $250,000 people can buy a ticket to space. The first flights will take place this year and will launch from Spaceport in New Mexico where they will bring people to the upper edges of the atmosphere.

Many children grow up wanting to become astronauts, and while many never get that opportunity, Sir Richard Branson, a famous entrepreneur, is making space flight a dream come true for them.

I can only imagine the breathtaking sites passengers will see on these flights. While many won’t be able to afford this kind of trip, I hope this will spur more innovation that allows the masses to reach outer space. Here’s to hoping the inaugural flights go well!

Check out more pictures of Virgin Galactic’s spaceship here.

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A Small Victory for Orangutan Conservation

 A Small Victory for Orangutan Conservation

Orangutans are a critically endangered species which means that a great deal of news about them is less than optimistic. There are, however, moments of great hope due to committed conservationists, primatologists, and zoo programs. In May, one of those moments occurred when 16-year-old Mei at the Cameron Park Zoo gave birth to her first baby, a girl. Mei and Kerajaan (or KJ) are Bornean orangutans whose habitat is being devastated in their native country. The birth of their daughter is cause for great celebration because the number of orangutans in the world is decreasing, leading to extinction if action is not taken. The Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas is taking great care to ensure that the new baby properly bonds to her mother and is cared for by her parents and zoo staff. The road to species recovery is long and difficult, but small victories like these make the hard work absolutely worth it.

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We’re Not the Only Species Who Feels Bad about Eating That

 Were Not the Only Species Who Feels Bad about Eating That

The Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota recently found that our brains are a lot more similar to those of mice than we thought. Regret is a cognitive behavior that humans express when they feel sorry about something they have done. Until recently, we believed that only humans felt that emotion. Scientists at the University of Minnesota have found some proof that rats, too, feel regret, evidenced by brain activity similar to humans’. When people realize that they have made a mistake and feel badly, the orbitofrontal cortex region of the brain is active. Because rats’ brains behaved the same way during the studies and tests, researchers were able to ascertain that rats were feeling regret like we do. This finding has undoubtedly left scientists worldwide wondering what other “human” characteristics we share with the rest of the animal kingdom, and will spur years of fascinating research and scientific growth.

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