Biologist’s techniques helps reduce illegal ivory harvesting

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Until recently ivory sellers could claim with impunity that any elephant ivories they possessed originated from whatever source they might truthfully or falsely declare. Thanks to the clever and diligent work of one Sam Wasser, that is no longer the situation. Biologist Wasser has developed techniques that allow authorities to identify with amazing precision the regional origins of pachyderm ivories. This information tool has facilitated several arrests for illegal possession and (more importantly) a precipitous decline from the estimated 40,000 elephants unlawfully slaughtered in 2015. Driving the market has been the $1,000 price per pound paid for elephant tusks. Tusks from one elephant can total more than 200 pounds.

A pair of experts (Carl Frey and Michael Osborne) dubbed tech employment scholars are boldly predicting that by the year 2037 at least 47% of all jobs in the U.S. will be automated. Even cabdrivers are being replaced. Uber currently has self-driving cars comprising a portion of its fleet in Pittsburgh. An Artificial Intelligence (AI) project entitled “Otto” involves 16 wheelers (No, not 18 – yet) with experimental robots. Perhaps this information is not good news for many of this nation’s 1.7 million truck drivers. Other professionals targeted by “smart” machinery include telemarketers, insurance underwriters, tax preparers and library workers. Robots do not require retirement plans, health benefits, vacations or maternity leaves. The Frey-Osborne team states with confidence that all professions in the previous list “have a 99 percent chance of vanishing” within the next 20 years. I find the report to be disturbing on multiple fronts. However, one should use caution to not confuse the messenger with the message.

Meanwhile out in the ocean, a charming creature approximately the size of a human hand is astonishing scientists. The Cystisoma have insect-looking appearances and are masters of disguises that involve chameleon-like abilities to change colors — with a magical touch. The animals can use tiny spheres and short bristly protrusions to cancel 99.9% of light reflections, thusly making the Cystisoma seem to disappear. Darn near spooky.

The music we refer to as “Jazz” was once called “Jass.” An old (dated 1916) and valuable 78 rpm disc displaying the famous “Victor” label features the “The Stable Blues – Fox Trot” by “Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band.” More than 1,000,000 copies of the recording were made. These are generally considered to be the world’s very first jazz recordings. In 1917 the spelling was changed from “jass” to “jazz.” Well, be fret not because of Frey/Osborne predictions (not to be confused with Ozzie Osborne predictions)

and do have a great week. (