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Top baby names for 2011

Source: Shine

In January, Today’s Parent listed the top names and trends predicted to this year.

Now, as the year comes to a close, Baby Center has released its list of the most popular baby names of 2011.

Sophia and Aiden are still tops, and as Today’s Parent predicted, “last names as first names” were hot (Madison and Jackson) as were Biblical names (Jacob and Noah) and L-names (Lily, Lucas, Logan, Liam).

Boy names that end with “N” still reign supreme: Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Jayden, Ethan and Logan all made the top 10.

As for the ever-present pop-culture influences, this year’s celebs worth naming kids after were Anderson Cooper — both Anderson and Cooper jumped up the list — and royals Kate, William, and royal in-law Pippa.

(By mid-2011, Pippa was the most-searched name on Nameberry.)

Some attribute Mason’s presence on the list to the Kardashian clan’s youngest member. And Jersey is quickly climbing the list, no doubt in part to reality television. (Fortunately, the name Snooki is still off the naming radar, but her real name, Nicole, is regaining popularity.)

And let’s not ignore the Twilight effect, with Isabella and Jacob still showing strong.

Top 10 Girl Names of 2011

1.    Sophia
2.    Emma
3.    Isabella
4.    Olivia
5.    Ava
6.    Lily
7.    Chloe
8.    Madison
9.    Emily
10.    Abigail

Top 10 Boy Names of 2011

1.    Aiden
2.    Jackson
3.    Mason
4.    Liam
5.    Jacob
6.    Jayden
7.    Ethan
8.    Noah
9.    Lucas
10.  Logan

Click here to read the top 100 boys’ and girls’ names in 2011.

Did your child’s moniker make the cut?

Looking forward to next year? Here are Nameberry’s predictions for the top naming trends of 2012.

Why Virginia Quake Shook Entire Coast

Source: Live Science

Written By:  Stephanie Pappas

The quake that hit the East Coast on Tuesday afternoon was notable, but not unprecedented, for the eastern half of the country, geoscientists say.

Additionally, the shaking was felt over such a large area — as far south as Atlanta and as far north as Ontario, according to eyewitness reports — largely because the eastern part of the North American continent is different than the West Coast, where quakes are more common. [Album: The Great San Francisco Earthquake]

“The crust is different in the east than in the west,” United States Geological Survey (USGS) earthquake geologist David Schwartz told LiveScience. “It’s older and colder and denser, and as a result, seismic waves travel much farther in the east than in the west.”

Additionally, said Andy Frassetto of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, the sediments along the east coast can make quakes feel stronger.

“The sediments of the coastal plain along the eastern seaboard can trap waves as they propagate and produce a minor amplification of the shaking,” Frassetto told LiveScience.

A much more extreme version of this effect occurred during the earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand, this year, Frassetto said.

Faults that rupture east of the Rockies usually create quakes felt over more than 10 times the area than those west of the mountains, according to the USGS. A magnitude-5.5 quake in the Eastern U.S. can usually be felt as far as 300 miles (500 km) away.

Latest Shaking

According to the USGS, the 5.8-magnitude quake struck at 1:51 p.m. Eastern Time. The epicenter was 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Mineral, Va., and 84 miles (135 kilometers) away from Washington, D.C. Despite the distance, the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings were evacuated. [Read: Large Earthquake Could Strike New York City]

The quake was only about 3.7 miles (6 km) deep, according to the USGS. That’s typical for the eastern U.S., Frassetto said. In the east, he said, quakes usually originate in the upper part of the crust.

In contrast, subduction zones such as the Pacific Ring of Fire, where one plate is being pushed under another, produce very deep quakes — sometimes 435 miles (700 km) down, Frassetto said. These super-deep quakes may not even be felt on the surface.

Quakes in the east

Since Virginia lies in the middle of a continental plate, the state doesn’t generally experience large-magnitude earthquakes like those that rattle Los Angeles, Alaska, Haiti, Japan and Chile (or any other areas on the edge of a tectonic plate), according to the USGS.

Even so, since 1977, there have been about 200 earthquakes in Virginia. The last “big one” in Virginia occurred on May 31, 1897, in Pearisburg; it was a 5.8-magnitude temblor that, in addition to cracking walls and toppling chimneys, reportedly caused a judge in the courthouse there to adjourn a trial, jumping over a railing and fleeing outside, according to the USGS.

Virginia is classified as a “moderate” seismic risk, with a 10-20 percent chance of experiencing a 4.75-magnitude earthquake (in quakes above 4.5, buildings begin to fall), the USGS said. Alaska and California take the first and second spots for the most earthquakes in the U.S., respectively, though California experiences more damaging earthquakes due to its greater population and extensive infrastructure.

There is a history of damaging quakes in the eastern United States, however. A destructive quake hit Charleston, S.C., in 1886, damaging thousands of buildings. Its magnitude was probably near 7.0 on the Richter scale. And in 1755, a quake with around a 6.0 magnitude struck off the coast of Massachusetts.

How many species on Earth? 8.7 million give or take

Source: Reuters

Written By: David Fogarty

Scientists have yet to discover, or classify, about 90 percent of the plant and animal species on Earth, which is estimated to be home to just under 9 million species, a study says.

The study, published in the open-access journal PLoS Biology on Wednesday, vastly increases the estimated richness of life on the planet. More than 1.2 million species have been formally described and named so far.

Scientists have long tried to classify life on Earth and to finally figure out how many species there are but estimates have varied wildly from 3 million to 100 million.

The quest is no mere scientific fancy. Humans derive huge benefits from the richness of life on the planet, from foods to medicines, to clean air and water. Knowing how many species there are and taking steps to ramp up the search and description could lead to more discoveries that benefit mankind.

The recent surge in extinction rates only made the quest more urgent, the scientists said.

“With the clock of extinction now ticking faster for many species, I believe speeding the inventory of Earth’s species merits high scientific and societal priority,” said Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who led the study.

Some U.N. studies say the world is facing the worst losses since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago.

Species are classified according to a 250-year-old taxonomy system. This groups life into a pyramid-like hierarchy, with species at the base, then genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom and domain.


Mora and team studied existing species databases and taxonomic data. They wanted to see if there were numerical patterns in the rankings, working on the assumption the higher taxonomic categories, meaning those at the top of the pyramid, are much more completely described than those as the bottom.

They examined well-known groups and found the relative numbers of species assigned to phylum, class, order, family and genus follow consistent patterns.

Applying this pattern to less well-studied groups could yield a reasonable estimate of total species numbers.

The result was 6.5 million species on land and 2.2 million in the ocean depths. The study had a error margin of 1.3 million in total.

The results suggested 86 percent of existing species on land and 91 percent of species in the ocean still await description, the scientists concluded.

“The diversity of life is one of the most striking aspects of our planet,” the scientists say in the study. “Hence knowing how many species inhabit Earth is among the most fundamental questions in science. Yet the answer to this question remains enigmatic.”

Writing in an accompanying commentary to the research, Robert May of the Zoology Department at Oxford University lamented the rapid rate of species loss, due to land clearing, pollution, climate change and other factors.

“It is a remarkable testament to humanity’s narcissism that we know the number of books in the U.S. Library of Congress on 1 February 2011 was 22,194,656,” wrote May, until recently the president of The Royal Society.

But it was remarkable that science “cannot tell you to within an order-of-magnitude how many distinct species of plants and animals we share our world with,” he added.

Why you should do the Plank A Day challenge

Source: Chatelaine
Written By: Terri Coles

Looking for a way to tighten up your core? Planks are a great ab exercise because they help to build strength and endurance all the way around your middle and in your back. That’s why taking the Plank A Day challenge can help reduce back pain and flatten your abs.

If you’ve noticed the popular #PlankADay hashtag on Twitter, here’s the deal: Sherry Pagoto hates doing ab exercises, but she wants to strengthen those muscles, so she decided to start doing a plank every day, with her friend Mike joining the challenge. It’s simple to join in yourself; just do one plank daily, aiming to hold it for a minute, and then tweet it out using the #PlankADay hashtag. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can do a 12-hour Plank An Hour challenge.

So how do you do a proper plank? Here are the steps:

1. Prop yourself on your toes and forearms, facing the floor.

2. Draw your belly button into your spine and keep your body in a straight line – you don’t want your back arching upward or downward.

3. Hold the position as long as you can with good form, aiming for 30 seconds to a minute. Remember to breathe!

If you can’t do a full plank yet, try this modified version to start. Repeat every day and soon you’ll be able to hold the plank longer, and notice the difference in your core strength.

Fossils show wood first evolved in N.B.

Illegal loggers load the wood they cut from a mangrove forest before they are detained by Malaysia's state of Selangor Forestry Department in Port Klang June 22, 2011. Selangor lost 100 million ringgit ($33 million) worth of logs to illegal logging over the last 10 years, The Star online reported quoting the state chairman of the environment committee.

Source: CBC

Scientists in New Brunswick have discovered evidence that wood first evolved on the land the province now occupies.

Randy Miller, the geology curator at the Museum of New Brunswick, said the province has some of the richest fossil deposits anywhere in the world.

The new evidence pushes the origins of wood back further than previously thought.

“This evidence shows that plants developed a woody structure about 395 to 400 million years ago. So it pushes our knowledge of that part of plant evolution back a little more,” he said.

The fossils were discovered on the Campbelton coast. North Carolina paleontologist Patricia Gensel published the finding this week in the journal Science.

Miller said Gensel’s work sheds light on life during the Devonian period of Earth’s history. It was a bleak time before animals when the tallest plants were only knee high and clustered around rivers and marshes.

“If you were to be dropped in Campbelton you would see volcanoes; you’d look across the landscape and there would be no trees. You’d walk down to the river margin or the estuary margin and you’d be walking through brush,” he said.

The innovation of wood gave plants the strength and the structure to colonize inland.

Botanist Stephen Clayden said the chance adaptation of woody cells had important advantages for drawing more water into the plant.

“It didn’t have that kind of mechanical, or conducting, plumbing system to get water very far above the soil,” he said of plant life at the time. “The limitations were really like those of say a sponge.”

The findings show the wood cells evolved first into conifers and later the broadleaf forests that make so much of life on the planet today possible.

“Wood formation and the origin of wood formation is one of the most significant features in the history of the Earth,” Clayden said.

Gensel has promised to return the fossils to the University of New Brunswick. The first wood fossils will be added to a collection of many more dead-end plants and species of the period dating back nearly half a billion years.

London unemployment surpasses Windsor

Source: The Windsor Star

London has eclipsed Windsor as a poster child for high unemployment in Canada and officials here say they feel that city’s pain.”We’ve had the dubious distinction of having the highest large urban unemployment rate in Canada for quite awhile and we can certainly empathize,” said Ron Gaudet, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.

London Mayor Joe Fontana has called an emergency jobs summit for Friday in response to a rising unemployment rate, which is now higher than Windsor’s.

London’s jobless rate was 9.1 per cent in July, which was the highest of any large urban centre in Canada, while Windsor’s had dropped to eight per cent.

“We’ve been there and we don’t want to go back,” said Mayor Eddie Francis. “But when our rate was climbing, we made some very strategic decisions.

“We could have buried our heads in the sand and waited it out but instead we decided to reposition this region for future growth by reducing our debt, holding the line on taxes and modernizing our transportation infrastructure to make us more attractive to outside investment.”

While Fontana couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the London Economic Development Corporation said the summit is designed as a brainstorming session to develop some short-term strategies but that in the long term, London will be looking for provincial and federal job creation funding.

“We’re been relatively thriving in our region but now with modest declines in our employment numbers, we have to redouble our efforts to develop long-term job creation strategies and the summit is the first step in that process,” said Kadie Ward, director of marketing and communications for the LEDC.

Francis said he reacts cautiously to unemployment numbers “because they can turn on a dime but the biggest mistake we can make now is to think we’ve turned the corner and take our foot off the gas.

“We have to remain aggressive and continue to focus on our job creation and investment strategies.”

Francis, who was out of the country on economic development-related business, declined to say where he was travelling but said he expects the trip to bear investment fruit by the fall.

In July 2009, Windsor’s jobless rate peaked at 15.2 per cent and has been either the worst or second-worst in Canada for most of the last 24 months, until Friday’s surprising figures were announced.

In the past 12 months, Windsor’s unemployment rate has fallen by 3.4 percentage points while London’s has increased by 0.9 percentage points.

Gaudet said the temptation is to “start high fiving when the rate drops and going into deep bouts of depression when it increases, but job creation is a long term process because it’s very difficult to move the numbers in any appreciable way in the short term.

“The important thing is to avoid finger pointing and to tap into municipal, provincial and federal job-creation strategies as much as possible.

“And what we have to remember is that we are all part of the Southwestern Ontario economic region and when one community hurts, we all share that pain,” said Gaudet.

While some point to the fact that Windsor’s labour force has fallen by nine per cent in the past 12 months, suggesting that people have either left the city or given up on finding employment, which can have a positive impact on the unemployment rate, StatsCan’s figures are generated by the same method in every city across Canada.

In July there were 1,200 fewer people in Windsor’s workforce compared to June, 900 more people working and 2,000 fewer people unemployed.

In London, there were 300 more people in the workforce compared to June, 800 fewer people employed and 1,000 more people unemployed.

It’s expected that London’s unemployment rate may get worse before it improves, with Ford planning to close its St. Thomas assembly plant in September, throwing an additional 900 area residents out of work.

Closure of a parts supplier which builds seats for Ford is expected to cost the area a further 400 jobs.

London’s unemployment figres includes St. Thomas.

Fontana’s summit is scheduled for Friday and will include London region politicians, labour officials and representatives of business, manufacturers, post-secondary institutions, health care, home building and real estate.

Saskatoon the fastest-growing city in Canada

Source: National Post Written By: Shannon Proudfoot

The Prairies are rising and Saskatchewan is leading the way as home to two of the three fastest-growing cities in Canada, new demographic analysis from Statistics Canada shows.

Saskatoon is the fastest-growing city in Canada, with a population growth rate of 27.7 per 1,000 people between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010. That translates into 7,200 more residents, for a total population of 265,300, the agency said Wednesday.

Saskatoon is followed by Vancouver, growing at a rate of 22.3 per 1,000, and Regina, which swelled by 22.3 per 1,000 over that same one-year period.

International migration was the driving force behind the Saskatchewan boom, Statistics Canada says, with nearly half the population growth fuelled by that factor. Saskatoon alone gained 3,300 people through net international migration in that year, outstripping the international draw of larger cities such as Hamilton and Quebec City.

Toronto was Canada’s fourth fastest-growing city, followed by Calgary, Moncton, N.B., Edmonton, Ottawa-Gatineau and Winnipeg.

Edmonton and Calgary’s growth rates have slowed from their furious pace between 2005 and 2009, when the two Alberta cities never dropped out of the top four in terms of growth, but they remained above the Canadian average.

In contrast, cities including Halifax, Montreal, Kelowna, B.C., Victoria and St. John’s had growth rates below the national average. Only two cities — Windsor, Ont. and Sudbury, Ont. — registered negative population growth, driven in both cases by losing residents to other Canadian cities.

As of Canada Day 2010, 23.6 million people or 69.1% of the population lived in one of Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs), large urban centres of at least 100,000 people and their surrounding regions, Statistics Canada said.

And these cities are growing faster than the rest of the country: Population growth for CMAs was 14.7 per 1,000 people over that one-year period, compared to 11.5 per 1,000 as a national average and 4.3 per 1,000 in small towns and rural areas.